The British Army’s Boxer mechanised infantry vehicle (MIV) has followed the lead of its Challenger 3 main battle tank (MBT) cousin in completing key initial firing trials, as focus on the MBT programme turns towards platform deliveries, according to social media posts by the British Army and RBSL respectively.

The announcements represent key milestones for the programmes, which form two of the three main land vehicle armour and mobility efforts – along with the Ajax armoured fighting vehicle – currently being undertaken to recapitalise a British Army struggling with encroaching obsolescence.

In a 19 June 2024 social media post, the British Army revealed that the Boxer MIV had completed living firing trials at the service’s Lulworth Ranges.

The firings represent the first time that British Army soldiers have operated the remote weapon station (RWS) on a UK Boxer platform, firing the general-purpose machine gun, heavy machine gun, as well as the grenade machine gun.

“The accuracy of the fully digital and stabilised RWS has been demonstrated when firing static, at night and on the move,” the British Army post stated.

Meanwhile, posting on social media on 18 June, Rheinmetall and BAE Systems joint venture RBSL revealed that initial firing trials for the Challenger 3 programme had been completed, with the company now progressing the delivery of the 148 vehicles to the British Army at its Telford site.

The firing trials of Challenger 3 took place in Germany through April, demonstrating the capabilities of its new L55A1 120mm main gun, which when combined with Rheinmetall’s latest DM73 kinetic anti-tank ammunition offers a 5km engagement range.

Boxer and Challenger 3: two-thirds of new British Army core

The current contract order will see 623 Boxer MIV across a range of variants delivered to the UK, although a June 2023 UK Government statement indicated that funding had been allocated for 1,016 Boxer MIVs against a land requirement of 1,305 units.

In January the UK MoD said that the Boxer was to begin formal customer validation trials for the command variant platform, coming after the MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support agency received prototype vehicles in December 2023.

The Boxer programme is also being delivered by RBSL from Telford and Stockport, with the European OCCAR agency stating the UK would receive initial operating capability platfoms by Q4 this year.

A total of 148 British Army Challenger 2s will be modernised to the Challenger 3 variant, incorporating a new turret, the L55A1 main gun, improved sensors, and vehicle powerpack. However, the improvement to the main gun is the most telling, bringing the British Army’s MBT into ammunition commonality with Nato allies.

Additional reporting by John Hill.