UPDATE 05/11/19 15:13.
The British Army has confirmed that the contract to buy the Boxer MIV has been signed. On Twitter, the British Army said: “Contract signed! We have committed to purchase more than 500 Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles. British Boxer will deliver a battle-winning, transformational capability which will form the backbone of STRIKE and is key in transforming the British Army.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve to have the best equipment to do their job. The Boxer vehicle is a leader in its field and I look forward to it arriving in units from 2023.”
The £2.8bn contract secures the purchase of over 500 vehicles just before the start of the pre-election period. The British Army is set to receive a mix of Boxer variants including troop-carriers, ambulances, command vehicles and ‘specialist designs to carry military equipment’.
The British Army is poised to buy an initial lot of 500 Boxer mechanised infantry fighting vehicles (MIV) out of a potential total purchase of around 1,500, pending approval from the Treasury.
The army displayed the vehicle at is Army Combat Power Demonstration last week and plans to use the vehicles in Strike brigades alongside incoming AJAX vehicles built by General Dynamics.
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The order, which could cost up to £1.5bn, will need to achieve Treasury endorsement quickly or face being delayed until after the General Election on 12 December when a new UK Government could decide the fate of the programme. Plans to purchase the vehicle were first floated in 2018 after it was selected for the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement.
When the UK formally rejoined the Boxer programme the MOD said it expected to field the first vehicles by 2023.
The first 500 vehicles will form a central role in new British Army Strike groups that are modelled on US Stryker Brigades deployed in Europe. The brigades will combine light and heavy vehicles that can cover large areas of territory using combat teams spread across the battlefield.
US Army Stryker brigades use the General Dynamics Stryker to provide flexible tactical response capabilities to a range of threats.
The army favours the Boxer platform due to its increased mission-to-mission versatility, and modularity means the vehicle can perform any number of tasks needed from high-calibre artillery fire to armoured battlefield ambulance or troop transport roles.
Boxer Vehicle at Milbrook Proving Ground. Credits: MOD Crown Copyright.
This complements the AJAX platform that it would deploy alongside, as AJAX features six different vehicle variants covering reconnaissance to engineering support. The Boxer vehicle will replace the Bulldog, which has been in use since the 1960s, and the Mastiff, which saw extensive use in Afghanistan.
Despite the plans, the possible purchase is not yet approved. Army Technology reached out to the Treasury to see when a decision may be made but it has yet to respond.
Joint venture Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) described the vehicle on Twitter as the ‘new default solution for NATO countries’. A British Army source told Army Technology that the platform benefits the army as risks and rewards are shared across several countries rather than just the UK.
Production of the vehicles for the British Army will be led by Artec, the joint venture formed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and Rheinmetall Military Vehicles Nederland with the majority of vehicles set to be built in the UK. Artec’s UK partners include BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering and Thales UK.
When initial plans to purchase the vehicles were unveiled last year, then Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew said: “A new 8×8 armoured vehicle is a key part of our British Army’s future, and today marks a big step towards equipping our soldiers with this brand-new troop carrier.”
The British Army has a long stop-start history with the Boxer and was an initial member of the consortium to design the vehicle in the 1990s. The initial programme compromised of France, The UK and Germany, however, the UK dropped out of the programme in 2003 to pursue other platforms.
Australia also operates the Boxer, recently receiving its first of 211 vehicles selected to strengthen its vehicular power as part of the country’s LAND 400 Phase 2 Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability programme.
The Boxer features a double-V hull to deflect blasts delivered to the underside of the vehicle from mines or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and features ‘mission modules’ which can be changed in an under an hour to allow the vehicle to complete different missions as is when is needed.
Another key aspect of the vehicle is the greater interoperability it would allow with other European militaries and an expanded supply chain which will help drive down costs during manufacturing and maintenance.