The Lithuanian Armed Forces have received the first two Vilkas infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) during a formal handover ceremony.

The official transfer of these vehicles comes after German manufacturer ARTEC delivered the two IFVs last month.

Lithuania signed a €385.6m contract with ARTEC and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) in 2016 to build and deliver a total of 88 Vilkas IFVs.

Vilkas is the designation for the Boxer vehicles in Lithuania. The vehicles are expected to fill a capability gap in the Lithuanian Land Force.

The vehicles will be employed in service by the units of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf – Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion.

Lithuania National Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said: “This is one of the most ambitious projects of upgrading the Lithuanian Armed Forces in the recent years. It will help ensuring the security of Lithuania for several decades to come.

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“Such a significant qualitative leap that strengthens our capabilities with modern weaponry matched to our needs demonstrates the responsibility we take the security situation with, the adequacy of our response and our readiness for defence.”

Lithuania chief of defence lieutenant general Jonas Vytautas Žukas stated that the Vilkas will prove to be a significant improvement over the existing M133 armoured personnel carriers.

“This is one of the most ambitious projects of upgrading the Lithuanian Armed Forces in recent years.”

In addition to the transportation of soldiers, the Vilkas vehicles will be capable of engaging in a battle by neutralising armoured and unarmoured targets at a distance of up to 4km, Žukas observed.

ARTEC has customised the IFVs to suit the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

The vehicles are equipped with Israeli-made remote weapon station turrets, US-made 30mm MK-44S cannons and Israel’s Spike LR anti-tank missiles.

In addition, the IFVs feature other integrated specialised equipment and electronic systems.

The German company is expected to complete the delivery of all the Vilkas vehicles by the end of 2021.