Armor: Boxer Reborn

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November 28, 2019: In early November 2019 Britain ordered about 500 Boxer vehicles worth about $3.35 billion. This contract is a follow-up to the 2018 decision to re-join the Boxer program. The exact number of Boxer vehicles will be determined before deliveries begin in 2023.

Boxer development began in 1999 as a joint British- German effort to create an armored utility vehicle for their forces. In 2001 Netherlands joined the program but then, in 2003, Britain withdrew only to return in 2018. In 2006 both the Dutch and Germans agreed to buy 472 Boxer vehicles; 200 for the Dutch and 272 for Germany. In 2008 Boxer successfully completed trials with the German Army and in 2011 five Boxers were used in Afghanistan, where none were lost. Boxer was then purchased by Lithuania (89 in IFV configuration) and Australia as a Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (211 ordered so far).

The Boxer itself is an 8x8wheeled armored vehicle that is operated by a crew of three. There is room for eight passengers and the vehicle weighs from 25 to 36.5 tons depending on the version. Moreover, it’s air transportable by the new A400M four engine aircraft. Its design is modular for maximum flexibility. Every chassis can be equipped with different snap-in modules for different purposes like infantry carrier, command vehicle, ambulance, supply carrier, IFV and so on. These modules are interchangeable and can be added or removed in less than an hour.

The modular armor is ceramic and is attached to the steel hull with fastening bolts. This design allows quick replacement of damaged modules or easier upgrades when new armor technology develops. Moreover, the vehicle has a triple hull floor for better protection against anti-tank mines and roadside bombs. For survivability, front armor can withstand 30mm autocannon rounds, while the all-round protection can withstand 12.7mm fire. This is accompanied by lowered radar, thermal and acoustic signatures which make it harder to detect. To ensure sufficient mobility the vehicle is fitted with a new high power 720 HP diesel engine which gives sufficient power-to-weight ratio and 85 kilometers per hour top speed. The maximum operational range is about a thousand kilometers.

Boxer armament can be configured to suit specific requirements of every user. Available weapons selection is pretty wide from light remote-controlled gun stations, turrets with autocannons up to even low recoil 105mm and 120mm guns. For example, German Boxers have a remotely operated gun mount with a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, the Dutch ones are equipped with a 12.7-mm machine gun while the Lithuanian variant uses an Israeli unmanned turret with a 30mm gun, coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun and Spike LR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) with a range up to 4,000 meters. The Australian CRV variant uses a "classical" LANCE 30mm two-man turret fitted with 30mm MK-30-2 autocannon together with Spike LR ATGM.

Meanwhile, the Brits have chosen four variants: Infantry Carrier, armed only with light machine-gun remote controlled station, Specialist Carrier, Command, and Ambulance. The last three were ordered in much smaller numbers. Boxer is expected to serve around 30 years and, together with the Ajax vehicle, will be the backbone of the British Army’s Strike concept. Production of the vehicles will start in Germany but then will be moved to the UK. With this contract, the number of  Boxers ordered has risen to 1,200. ---Przrmyslaw Juraszek

 


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