The Fighter Still Remains… The Boxer MRAV APC Family

Boxer MRAV Snow

Boxer MRAV
(click to view full)

July 19/23: MIV The UK is set to trial its next-generation Boxer armored vehicle this month to determine if it possesses all the qualities to be named the new British Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV). According to the service, the prototypes will undergo a series of special tests ahead of a separate customer trial to be initiated by the country’s procurement agency. If successful, the vehicles will join the army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams and be deployed over long distances to support a wide variety of missions “from low intensity peacekeeping to warfighting.”

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Boxer MRAV (click to view full) Wheeled armored vehicles have become much more common, but the Dutch-German Boxer stands out from the crowd. Its English acronym is “Multi Role Armoured Vehicle” (MRAV), but rather than being a family of different vehicles, the Boxer will use a single chassis, with snap-in modules for different purposes from […]

Boxer MRAV Snow

Boxer MRAV
(click to view full)

Wheeled armored vehicles have become much more common, but the Dutch-German Boxer stands out from the crowd. Its English acronym is “Multi Role Armoured Vehicle” (MRAV), but rather than being a family of different vehicles, the Boxer will use a single chassis, with snap-in modules for different purposes from infantry carrier to command, cargo, ambulance, etc.

The base vehicle has a maximum road speed of 100 km/h (60 mp/h) and an operational range of 1,000 km (600 miles). In its troop carrying configuration, it has a crew of 2 and can carry 10 fully equipped troops. The MRAV is fighting for space in a crowded market, but its principal countries are beginning to give it the front-line credibility it needs to succeed.

Boxer MRAV: The Vehicle

Boxer MRAV Module Concept

Boxer modular concept
(click to view full)

The base 8×8 vehicle provides a load capacity to 8 tonnes (9 tons) and has an internal capacity of more than 14 square meters. The Mission modules fit into the base vehicle’s steel shell, incorporating a primary safety cell with a triple floor and shaped sides to deflect mine blasts. Ceramic modular armor is sandwiched between the vehicle cell and the steel coat, and all three elements are secured by fastening bolts. The shaped sides of the modules also work to deflect mine blasts away from the soldiers inside, while a double-lined hull soaks up critical blast deformation.

The exact maximum weight of a Boxer MRAV depends on the version, and on its add-on armor package. The base is currently about 30 tonnes (33 tons), but its current design allows it to grow to 36 tonnes (39.6 tons) without any additional modification to the drive line. The vehicle and modules are air transportable in an A400M or larger aircraft, and modules are interchangeable in less than one hour.

Boxer MRAV: The Program

CV90-35 MkIII

CV90-35 MkIII
(click to view full)

In mid-2006 the Netherlands decided to remain in the ARTEC consortium’s joint Boxer MRAV modular armored personnel carrier project with Germany. Despite earlier reservations, Dutch secretary of Defense Cees van der Knaap declared to the 2nd Chamber that the country wanted to continue with the project. By June 28th, 2006, a release noted that the Chamber had given the green light; the APC’s price has apparently been reduced to an acceptable level following negotiations with Stork. A formal contract worth up to EUR 1.2 billion (about $1.6 billion) was finally signed in December 2006, clearing the way for both Dutch & German vehicle production.

The Royal Netherlands Army is purchasing 200 Boxer vehicles for transport, engineering, command, and transportation of wounded, replacing some of their YP-408s and all of their M577s (command post version of the M113). The 200 Boxer MRAVs will be delivered in 5 versions – 58 ambulances, 55 Command Post variants, 41 engineer group (pioneer) vehicles, 27 cargo vehicles, and 19 cargo/command-and-control vehicles to replace the current YPR 765 tracked vehicles. Note that this figure is down from initial estimates of 384 vehicles.

In addition to the Boxers, the Dutch Army will also be operating BAE Hagglunds’ CV90-35 MkIIIs as Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

Boxer land trials

Land trials, with RWS
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Under current plans, Jane’s revised reports indicate that the German Army is due to take delivery of 272 Boxer vehicles in 3 baseline versions: 135 armored personnel carriers (APCs), 65 command post (CP) variants, and 72 heavy armored ambulances. The Boxers will replace some Fuchs 6 x 6 and tracked M113-series APCs currently in service; like the Dutch Boxers, they will fill a middle weight armor role alongside heavier tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles – in this case, the new KMW/Rheinmetall Puma.

The Boxer program is being managed by the European OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) Armaments Agency. Britain was initially part of the MRAV consortium as well, but left in 2003 to pursue its own future armored vehicles project called FRES. The industrial contractor is ARTEC GmbH – acting on behalf of the consortium formed by Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (36%), Rheinmetall Landsysteme (14%) and Stork PWV (50%).

Manufacturing of the vehicles will take place in both countries. Amsterdam-based Stork PWV is the national prime contractor and system integrator for the Dutch Boxer vehicles. As a partner, Stork Special Products is also responsible for assembling of the power pack consisting of a MTU engine, angular gear, transmission, cooling block and over 1,200 minor parts in total. They’re also developing the Environmental Control System, an air-conditioning system with integrated NBC(nuclear, biological, chemical) protection.

Contracts and Key Events

Boxer MRAV Ambulance

MRAV Ambulance
(click to view full)

July 19/23: MIV The UK is set to trial its next-generation Boxer armored vehicle this month to determine if it possesses all the qualities to be named the new British Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV). According to the service, the prototypes will undergo a series of special tests ahead of a separate customer trial to be initiated by the country’s procurement agency. If successful, the vehicles will join the army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams and be deployed over long distances to support a wide variety of missions “from low intensity peacekeeping to warfighting.”

June 29/21: Bundeswehr ARTEC GmbH, on behalf of its parent companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, officially handed over the last of the Boxer armoured transport vehicles (GTK) ordered to date by the Bundeswehr to representatives of the Federal procurement agency (BAAINBw) and the Ministry of Defense. The contract CCG 2nd batch, which was concluded in December 20015, comprised 131 GTK Boxers and was worth EUR 478 million. All the experience gained with modifications from the successful Afghanistan mission have been incorporated into this A2 version.

June 9/21: UK Welding for the fabrication of prototypes and subsequent series production of the Boxer Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme, under which British Army is procuring over 500 Boxer vehicles started. Under the aegis of Artec GmbH, a joint venture of Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Rheinmetall will fabricate first prototypes at its plant in Kassel, Germany which will also make the the first series vehicles. The prototypes will have content supplied by the United Kingdom, such as the remotely controlled weapon stations, generic vehicle architecture components, the local situational awareness system or the vehicle emergency lighting system.

June 4/21: Australia Rheinmetall delivered first 25 Boxer 8×8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV) to the Australian Army under the $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability project. Rheinmetall will deliver a total of 211 Boxer 8×8 Vehicles in different versions, 131 will be the CRV variant. They will replace the Army’s Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAV) under LAND 400 Phase 2. Delivery of the first 25 vehicles enables Army to continue towards Initial Operating Capability on schedule as Rheinmetall moves into the next phase of the LAND 400 Phase 2 program.

November 13/19: Britain German defense company Rheinmetall announced the Artec consortium, led by Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defense to produce more than 500 Boxer 8×8-wheeled armored vehicles for the British Army. The total current value of the order is approximately $2.9 billion. The Boxer vehicles ordered by the British Army will be supplied in several different configurations, including an armored personnel carrier, command vehicle, specialist carrier and field ambulance. Delivery of the vehicles is expected to start from 2023. Most of the production will take place in the UK. Full-scale production will begin in Germany, but 90% of the Boxer vehicles destined for the British Army will be produced in the UK, principally at plants operated by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) and KMW’s subsidiary WFEL.

September 20/18: MBDA pitch Jane’s reports that MBDA is currently working on mission module concepts to be integrated with the Boxer IFV. MBDA is developing those concepts as answer to the British Army’s future land surface-to-surface fire requirements. MBDA Future Land Indirect Fires concepts include the incorporation of an eight-cell land indirect fire mission module able to fire a 178 mm surface-to-surface missile. An MBDA spokesperson told Jane’s that the “Boxer is effectively designed to accept different mission modules that can be swapped in or out as required. So we are proposing is a modular mission module equipped to conduct a land indirect fires role.” The UK rejoined the Boxer program after a 14-year hiatus in April 2018. The Boxer is supposed to fulfill the Army’s mechanised infantry vehicle requirement by 2023.

August 29/18: Spike LR2 to equip ADF Boxer The Australian Ministry of Defense is confirming that it will arm its Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles with the Spike LR2. The country is procuring a total of 211 Rheinmetall Boxers under its Land 400 Phase 2 program. The Spike LR2 is produced by Israeli defense contractor Rafael and is the latest member of the multi-purpose missile family. The missile has the capability to destroy a number of different targets including MBTs with reactive armor and fortified structures. The LR2 is equipped with a passive and uncooled multi-band seeker that integrates both thermal and HD imagery and includes a smart target tracker with AI features, allowing the missile to track and target automatically.

August 21/18: Boxer CRVs for the ADF Jane’s reports that Australia is ordering several hundred Boxer CRVs from Rheinmetall Defense Australia (RDA). The acquisition of 200 Boxer CRVs is part of Australia’s Project Land 400 Phase 2. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will introduce several variants of the Boxer with the reconnaissance variant, accounting for 133 of the 211 vehicles. The Boxer’s design is based on a modular structure selected to give the maximum flexibility for multipurpose operations. The vehicle incorporates a high level of standardisation and uses commercially proven automotive components. The 8×8 vehicle provides a load capacity of up to 8t and has an internal capacity of more than 14m³. The contract has a value of $4.1 billion. The vehicles are scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2026.

April 04/18: UK back in the Boxer’s ring The United Kingdom will again join the Dutch-German Boxer program, 14 years after deciding to opt out. The Boxer, a “Multi Role Armored Vehicle” (MRAV), uses a single chassis, with snap-in modules for different purposes from infantry carrier to command, cargo, ambulance and others. The base vehicle has a maximum road speed of 60 mph and an operational range of 600 miles. In its troop-carrying configuration, it has a crew of 2 and can carry 10 fully equipped troops. The UK left the program in 2003 over concerns that the vehicle would be too heavy for transport by RAF’s C-130s. For well over a year, British Army officials have been pushing for a deal with Artec, the Boxer producing Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann and Rheinmetall joint venture. The Boxer is supposed to fulfill the Army’s mechanized infantry vehicle requirement by 2023. Recently Australia tapped the German manufacturer for the provision of 200 vehicles with a total cost of $2.48 billion. Artec will cooperate with local partners including, BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering, Raytheon UK and Thales UK. Assembly, design, and manufacture in the UK would generate approximately 1,000 jobs and keep about 60 percent of the $2.7 billion contract within the UK.

February 9/18: An offer the UK can’t refuse? German-Dutch consortium ARTEC has promised to produce and assemble the majority of its Boxer armored personnel carrier (APC) at Pearson Engineering’s factory in northeast England, if the UK Ministry of Defense finalizes orders for the supply of several hundred of the eight-wheel drive APCs to the British Army. Assembly, design, and manufacture in the UK would generate approximately 1,000 jobs and keep about 60 percent of the $2.7 billion contract within the UK—an attractive offer in a nation looking to keep and boost manufacturing employment after the decision to leave the European Union in 2016. The announcement was made by ARCTEC—a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall?as part of a statement that it had recruited as part of its team, Pearson, BAE Systems and Thales UK, and comes as the MoD closes on a decision whether to buy the Boxer without a competition. However, as the Daily Telegraph reports, concerns about a funding hole in the defence budget means a decision contract has been pushed back, as well as being complicated by rival suppliers complaining they have been shut out of the program and that Artec’s proposals would not offer as much work to the UK supply chain as theirs.

July 7/17: Rheinmetall MAN Vehicles expects to receive a contract from ARTEC—the consortium behind the Boxer 8×8 vehicle—to modernize 38 of the armored vehicles for the German Army. ARTEC, a joint venture of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland, received the order from OCCAR, the European procurement agency in late June, in a deal that is in excess of $23.8 million. The deal will see the vehicles upgraded from the command variant to the A2 level, which requires changes to the vehicles’ chassis and mission modules. Other enhancements include advanced driver visualization technology, new weapon systems, IT equipment modules and new communication systems.

August 24/16: Lithuania’s Ministry of Defense continues with the modernization of their land forces after awarding a $435.1 million contract to the German-Dutch Artec consortium for the provision of 8×8 Boxer infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). The group, a cooperation between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles will deliver the vehicles equipped with Israeli-made turrets and armed with 30 mm cannons and Spike LR anti-tank missiles. This follows a bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and the Dutch government, who are currently in the process of transferring second hand Army land vehicles east to boost Lithuanian military capabilities.

June 25/14: Dutch delivery. Formal delivery of the 1st Dutch Boxer to the 13th NL Brigade’s medical company. The Director of the NL Defence Materiel Organisation symbolically delivers the vehicle by handing over a wrench that serves as an emergency opener for the rear door. Sources: OCCAR, “Formal handover of first Netherlands BOXER vehicle to the customer”.

April 7/14: Update. OCCAR-EA’s BOXER Programme Manager has approved delivery of the first Dutch Boxer, an ambulance variant. The NL AMB BOXER vehicle is the first BOXER vehicle built at the new Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles – NL facilities in Ede, The Netherlands. The schedule foresees that the last of the 52 NL AMB will be delivered in January 2015, to be followed with the next NL BOXER vehicle types: Command Post (CP), Engineers Group (GNGP) and Cargo (CAR). The Dutch are getting 8 Driver Training Vehicles (DTV), and 192 Boxer variants for delivery by the end of 2017.

Germany has already received 225 vehicles, built by KMW in Munich and by Rheinmetall in Kassel, leaving just 47 left to be delivered to Germany before the end of 2016. Sources: OCCAR, “Start of The Netherlands’ Ambulance BOXER delivery”.

May 2012: LANCE. Rheinmetall announces that a concept study equipping the Boxer with Rheinmetall’s LANCE medium caliber turret has finished trials at their test center in Unterluss. The firm worked with RMMV Kassel, RLS Augsburg and RLS Kiel, to combine the LANCE turret system with a Boxer module, and modify the mission module.

Jan 24/12: The German Bundeswehr produces a video about the Boxer’s combat deployment in Afghanistan. Deployment is going well, but they may want more storage space. That’s always an interesting challenge with APCs. The Boxer CP variant is set to arrive in theater in February 2012. German Bundeswehr [in German] | Aviation Week.

July 22/11: German Boxer A1 MRAVs ship out to Afghanistan, aboard chartered AN-124 aircraft.

A1 is a modification set designed for ISAF operations in Afghanistan. It includes extra armor, raising the FLW-200 remote weapon station 30 cm/ 1 foot to give it better coverage high and low, and an appropriate camouflage pattern for the ISAF region. FuInfoSys networking between the Boxer and the infantry group equipped with the IdZ-21 Future Soldier system is standard. KMW.

March 3/11: Germany readies to deploy the Boxer. Its driver training school in Dornstadt received 7 Driver Training Vehicles (DTV) in 2010. In February 2011, another 8 Boxer APCs were delivered to 292 Jaegerbattalion in Donaueschingen, in preparation for the vehicle’s deployment to Afghanistan with this unit in August 2011. OCCAR | German Army [in German].

Oct 7/10: BAE Systems announces a $3.6 million contract from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) to manufacture and deliver SCHROTH brand 4-point harness safety restraint with integrated airbag systems, to equip for 125 German Boxer vehicles. BAE will produce 7 restraint systems per vehicle (875 total), along with replacement parts. As part of the agreement, SCHROTH engineers have also developed a special, self-administered diagnostic tool for soldiers to verify that the systems are in working order. Deliveries of the new restraint system are expected to be completed in 2014.

Airbags to protect passengers are nothing new in civilian vehicles, but they’re still rare in combat vehicles. In the event of a crash, sensors on the SCHROTH harness measure the resulting acceleration, and send signals to gas generators whose micro pyrotechnical charges deploy the airbags in a fraction of a second.

April 27/10: A brief to the Dutch Parliament says that Boxer MRAV “Drive Module” (main body) qualification will not be done by the end of 2010, as scheduled. The vehicle did not fully meet contracted standards, and Germany’s intent to use Boxers in Afghanistan in 2010 has had effects of its own.

An agreement was reached with Germany for post-delivery qualifications in 2010, during so-called “Reliability Batch Trials,” with any changes Germany requires made at the manufacturer’s expense. Agreements were also made concerning post-qualification of some Drive Module sub-components, and alteration of the Logistic Qualification Course.

In contrast, the Dutch absolutely require pre-qualification before they’ll accept delivery. That means delays for series production of Dutch vehicles, and to the future Cargo, Ambulance and Command versions. Extra budget is also being requested to modify the Dutch C2-LAN system to a full C4I system. Kamenbrief [in Dutch]

Feb 8/10: KMW subsidiary Dutch Defense Vehicle Systems (DDVS) opens a new production facility in Helmond, near Eindhoven, NL. The facility will produce all hulls and several mission modules for the German-Dutch Boxer vehicle program, which currently stands at a total of 472 vehicles. Helmond will also be the site for logistics and maintenance service to the Dutch fleet of Fennek reconnaissance vehicles. KMW release [PDF]

Sept 23/09: At a ceremony in Munich, Rheinmetall Defence and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) transfer the first serially produced Boxer to the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement (OCCAR), which is administering the Boxer project, and Germany’s Federal Agency for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB). Rheinmetall | KMW [PDF format].

May 8/08: ARTEC’s Boxer MRAV made a dramatic comeback to reach the finals, but lost to General Dynamics MOWAG’s Piranha-V in Britain’s FRES-Utility competition. | UK MoD release | General Dynamics UK release.

June 14/07: Stung by criticism that the MoD has wasted years in order to select off-the-shelf vehicles that may not be survivable enough, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Lord Drayson fires back in a public forum:

“Yes, the Boxer was a programme the MoD pulled out of when it was known as the MRAV programme. We took that decision in 2002 in light of the requirement at the time. We have since reviewed the FRES requirement in light of recent operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Force protection in theatre now has a higher priority than strategic deployability – I don’t think anyone would argue with that view. When the situation changes our procurement process must be capable of responding to that change… I’m not going to go into the details of the protection FRES will have in a public forum… But to suggest that we are ignoring the threats we face in Iraq and Afghanistan today when we set the requirement for our future vehicles is wrong. And the idea that taking into account the full range of threats FRES will be less well protected than the patrol vehicles you list (such as the Mastiff) is also wrong. Finally, let’s all be clear that FRES is neither a protected patrol vehicle nor a replacement for Warrior…”

Given Canada’s poor experiences with wheeled vehicles in Afghanistan, and the Stryker’s emerging difficulties against new IED land mines in Iraq, this may become a recurring subject.

June 8/07: Britain’s MoD announces the FRES finalists. Surprisingly, the SEP vehicles don’t make that list, nor do other test platforms. All of the finalists are wheeled: General Dynamics MOWAG’s Piranha IV, Nexter (formerly Giat’s) VBCI – and the KMW-ARTEC Boxer, which Britain pulled out of several years ago in order to pursue FRES.

The vehicles will go on to the “trials of truth,” and the MoD says the outcome of the trials will be announced by the end of November 2007. At that point, “one or more utility vehicle designs will go forward for detailed assessment.” UK MoD release | Nexter release | KMW release.

May 23/07: Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that ARTEC expects to deliver the first Boxer 8 x 8 MRAV to the German Army on schedule in late 2009, with deliveries to the Royal Netherlands Army following in 2011.

Dec 19/06: At Bernardkazerne in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, a contract is signed for series deliveries of the Boxer Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle to the Netherlands and German armed forces. The series production contract covers up to 272 vehicles for Germany and the 200 vehicles for the Netherlands, with a total value of EUR 1.2 billion (about $1.58 billion), of which Stork will receive EUR 500 million (about $660 million) from 2008 – 2016. Up to 70% of Stork’s turnover will be subcontracted. Deliveries of the vehicles will start in 2009 and extend for seven years.

The contract for Stork encompasses a continued design for 2 new Boxer versions, the series production of 200 Boxer vehicles in 5 versions and an initial in-service support package. The Netherlands army will use the Boxer in 5 different versions: an ambulance vehicle, command post, engineer vehicle, and two types of cargo vehicles. See Stork release.

Dec 13/06: The Budget Committee of the German Bundestag approves MRAV acquisition. Formal signing of an OCCAR acquisition contract by representatives of Germany and the Netherlands is expected to take place on December 19, 2006. The order will reportedly encompass 400 vehicles, 200 of which are earmarked for the German Bundeswehr. Under this contract, the Germans would also have an option for a further 72 units configured as field ambulances. See Rheinmetall release, also KMW release in German.

Oct 13/06: The Dutch Ministerie Van Defensie issues a release noting that the Council of Ministers has approved the purchase of 200 Boxer APCs for the Dutch Army; the final decision now moves on to Parliament (and see Oct 10/06 entry below). The first Boxer MRAVs will enter service in 2011, and deliveries will be complete in 2016. Defense Aerospace’s translation adds some additional information that doesn’t appear to be in the Dutch release, noting that:

“On the basis of information supplied by industry, the operating cost of the Boxer for 200 vehicles over a life span of 30 years was initially estimated at approx. 1,125 million euros (excl VAT). More recent estimates have allowed the Ministry of Defence to reduce the projected life-time operating cost to 938 million euros (excl VAT), based on the best available data.”

In approximate US dollars, the range would be $1.176 billion – $1.41 billion, or about $5.88 – $7.05 million per vehicle over a 30-year operating period.

Oct 10/06: Jane’s International Defence Review reports that The Netherlands national elections scheduled for November 22, 2006 could lead to changes on the defense front. “With the electorate more or less split down the middle, a change of government from the current centre-right coalition to a new centre-left or even 100 per cent-left coalition is not impossible.” Such shifts would have implications for programs like the Boxer MRAV. As it happens, the Dutch elections produced losses for all major parties and left Parliament in a similar balance.

Additional Readings & Sources

* ARTEC Boxer official site

* Stork NV – Boxer. The subsidiary tasked with production is Stork PWV, who has this Boxer page, and also the Stork Special Products page that includes details re: some of Stork’s sub-projects within the program.

* KMW – Boxer Wheeled Vehicle

* Rheinmetall Defence – Boxer

* Army Technology – Boxer MRAV Wheeled Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle, Europe

* Ministerie van Defensie (June 28/06) – Kamer Steunt Voortgang Boxer

* Janes (May 22/06) – Revised bid aims to put Boxer back in the ring

* Ministerie van Defensie (June 21/06) – Nederland Gaat Door Met Boxer Pantservoertuig

* Janes (Oct 3/05) – Boxer misses key pricing deadline

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