The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) will begin its formal customer validation trials for the command variant of its Boxer mechanised infantry vehicles (IFV) at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, UK.
This comes just after Defence Equipment and Support, the MoD procurement agency, received Boxer prototypes in December 2023.
The Boxer MIV is an 8×8 multi-purpose armoured vehicle managed by the European armaments agency, the Operation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR). The vehicle can operate in both high-intensity conflicts as well as in relief and humanitarian operations.
According to Rheinmetall – a participant of the joint venture supplier ARTEC alongside KMW – the latest trials will focus on command, control, communications, computers and intelligence; electronic countermeasures; user human machine interface; electromagnetic compatibility and climatics.
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This milestone sets the scene for the 60% sovereign production in Telford and Stockport, two British industrial facilities that have received increased capacity due to a £40m investment from RBSL. According to OCCAR, the UK will receive its initial operating capability vehicles by Q4 this year.
Although this demonstrates a successful milestone in the programme it is not without its challenges.
In an update on the UK’s ‘Boxer Strategic Pipeline’ at the International Armoured Vehicles conference, hosted by Defence iQ, on 22 January 2024 a spokesperson noted the “need for industry to deliver promises.”
UK concedes “temporary concessions” in supply chain
In the update, the spokesperson stated that the UK will need to concede “temporary concessions” for a mix of Boxer components during the next year or two.
This will involve approaching fellow OCCAR participants in the Boxer programme – Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands – for their spares parts that can be used for the UK Boxers as the nation waits for its own supply chain to deliver.
For that reason, the spokesperson added that the UK will pursue a “long-term approach” that will ensure supply chain resilience in the future as well as growth capabilities for its Boxers – such as mortar and bridging equipment.
The spokesperson pointed out that the UK Boxer supply chain had “not yet stabilised.”