WFEL is set to manufacture a portion of the British Army’s 500 new Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles (MIVs) as part of a £2.3bn vehicle procurement deal signed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) last year.
Under the agreement, up to 60% of the vehicles by value will be sourced in the UK with work split between WFEL, a UK subsidiary of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL).
The UK manufacturers were handed the work after the MOD confirmed the contract to buy the vehicles with Artec – a Rheinmetall – KMW joint venture last year.
The British Army’s initial purchase of Boxers covers four variants of the modular vehicle, including the armoured personnel carrier, field ambulance, command vehicle and specialist carrier variants.
UK Defence Minister James Heappey said: “Investing in the Boxer programme is a prime example of Defence doing more than ever to level-up the UK economy through employment. By developing our relationship with WFEL, we are also supporting high-skilled jobs across the UK supply chain.
“This partnership ensures we engage with our people from the very beginning, connecting talented apprentices with the valuable roles Defence has to offer.”
WFEL said its involvement in the Boxer programme would create a number of jobs at the company and for its wider UK supply chain.
WFEL managing director Ian Anderton said, “Our substantial involvement in the Boxer programme allows us to further develop our UK supply chain, in turn creating and protecting valuable UK engineering jobs and developing new skills for our staff and those of our supply chain partners.
“Working in close partnership with our KMW colleagues, we are both delighted and proud to be part of this transformational project for the British Army, with whom we have worked for many years.”
Delivery of the Boxers to the British Army is set to begin in 2023, with the vehicles set to work alongside the General Dynamics AJAX as part of newly formed Strike Brigades modelled on the US Army’s Stryker Brigades.
The British Army has faced a long journey in the procurement of the Boxer MIV having initially joined the programme at its inception in the 1990s but later withdrawing after the onset of the Iraq war. The UK then formally rejoined the Boxer programme in 2018 ahead of signing off on the purchase of the first 500 vehicles late last year.
The British Army will join Germany, The Netherlands, Lithuania and Australia in operating the vehicle.
The vehicle has a service life of around 30 years and features a double V hull for better blast protection. Its modular design means the vehicle is effectively built in two sections, a drive module and a payload module.
The payload module can be lifted off the vehicle and replaced in around an hour using a crane, allowing commanders more flexibility and the ability to quickly field different capabilities depending on the situation.