Boxer is described by Artec as
BOXER is a truly modular vehicle providing multiple functions for its users, several communication interfaces for participation in network-enabled warfare and diverse mission relevant capabilities. The flexibility of its modularity allows BOXER to be easily adapted to meet diverse mission requirements, in rapidly changing circumstances and global environments. BOXER has impressive integral growth potential so that future emerging military roles and changing requirements can be met, without degrading the vehicle’s capabilities such as mobility.
Boxer is an eight wheeled multi-role armoured wheeled combat vehicle available in a number of variants.
Boxer is produced by the ARTEC GmbH (ARmoured vehicle TEChnology) under the overall management of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR). Artec is owned by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV) and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland B.V. (formerly Stork). As the UK has now rejoined the Boxer programme, as managed by OCCAR, Artec will produce most of the vehicles and modules in the UK with value split between RBSL and WFEL (described in Part 1 of this article)
Weights, Dimensions and Performance
When it was introduced, Boxer was significantly larger than in contemporaries but recent vehicles have caught up somewhat. The reason for its size (and resultant high weight) was high levels protection (especially top protection against fragments and cluster weapons) and a desire to ensure sufficient space to accommodate the embarked personnel with their stores rather than hanging things on the outside.
In common with all similar vehicles its combat weight has crept up since introduction with different equipment fits and protection influencing the final weight and dimensions.
|Height (Hull Roof)||2.38m|
|Height (Lance Turret Roof)||3.24m|
|Height (155mm Turret Roof)||3.94m|
Maximum gross vehicle weight is 38.5 tonnes, this has increased since first introduced through the A1 and A2 revisions.
Comparing that with transport aircraft dimensions and capacities below.
|C-17||5.50m||3.80m||26.0m (inc. ramp)||60-64 tonnes|
Width and length are no problem for all those above but a Boxer complete with both drive and payload module would be too heavy for a C-130 and at the upper end of the weight, marginal at best for A400M. Although A400M has a ‘brochure’ maximum payload of 37 tonnes the actual useable maximum weight will likely be less and in any case, towards the top end of the payload, the range would be restricted. The maximum vehicle weight includes fuel, ammunition and other items that could in many cases be removed for flight but it is hardly ideal and in general, compromises would need to be considered if the Boxer is likely to be transported by air. The C-17 could easily carry one at substantial distances although for both, the 155mm artillery variant will be challenging in regards of height. The Air Portable Ferry Bridge has an MLC of 35 so would be unsuitable for Boxer, an variant. With an MLC of 50, the Rapidly Emplaced Bridge System (REBS) would be suitable.
As weight has grown, transportability by air has been affected. Although the UK’s A400M’s have a stronger floor (to accept Terrier) than standard A400M’s, recent German trials have confirmed that the A2 variant will need to be carried on A400M in a split configuration, drive unit and module in separate aircraft, it is planned that three A400M will be able to accommodate two Boxer. This will restrict airlanding operations and place a greater demand on finite transport but perhaps this can be offset by a likely infrequent deployment by air.
Trench crossing is 2m, step climbing 800mm, gradient 60%, side slope 30% and it has a ground clearance of 500mm. Mobility is reported to be excellent with all wheels being driven, the front two axles steering with selectable four-axle differentials and two inter-axle differentials.
A central tyre inflation system is fitted to enhance mobility. The Dutch/Germans use Michelin 415/80R685 XML tyres (27 inch in metric) which are ‘tuned’ to give maximum soft soil (mud) traction, but only carry 4.5T per tyre. The Batch 1 of Australian Boxers will be fitted with 415/80R685 XForce 2 tyres (higher load rating @5T and sand-optimised) and Batch 2 (and all future Boxers for Australia) will be fitted with 415/80R685 XForce ZL tyres (even higher load rating @5.6T allowing further growth potential and all-round off-road pattern). Future Boxers are likely to be heavier than the initial Dutch and German vehicles so they are likely to be fitted with the XForce ZL tyre
None of this negates the need for a recovery variant, as the video below demonstrates!
Automotive and Capacities
Boxer is fitted with an MTU/Rolls Royce 8V199 TE20 multifuel engine, based on the Mercedes Benz Series OM500 truck engine, developing 536kW (720bhp) coupled to a 7 forward 3 reverse speed Allison HD4070 automatic transmission. The Euro III compliant Series 199 has a two stage intercooler and has been optimised for military use with modifications to the lubrication system, turbo charging system and electronics. To reduce thermal signature, the hot exhaust is discharged together with the cooling air via thermally insulated ducts.
The engine series is the same that powers Ajax. Pack change can be completed in less than 30 minutes.
Its maximum speed is 103km/h with a road range of 1,050km to support longer self-deployments.
The suspension arrangement is shown below.
The vehicle is constructed from welded steel armour and with a AMAP composite armour provides a baseline protection of STANAG 4569 Level 4 all round (resistant against 14.5mm armour piercing, 15mm artillery shell splinters at 30m and 10kg mine). Crew areas are also provided with an AMAP-L spall liner. Blast attenuating seats are also fitted as standard. Reduction of thermal, acoustic and radar signature is core to the design, actively cooled plates around the engine compartment, exhaust vent placement and triple layer floors for example. Hydraulic liquids and fuel are placed outside of the main mission modules and a full CBRN protection system is fitted as standard.
Additional passive and active protection systems can be fitted. The Australian specification, for example, called for very high protection levels, STANAG 4569 level 6/6+. For the Australian vehicles, based on the A2 configuration, the local situational awareness system will be provided by Tectonica
Rheinmetall has demonstrated the Boxer CRV with the ADS – Gesellschaft für aktive Schutzsysteme active defence system called AMAP-ADS and a number of countermeasures.
ADS appears to be a very impressive system. The UK is currently evaluating a number of active protection systems so it will be interesting to see if any are selected for Ajax, MIV or Challenger 2 and it is likely that the comprehensive work completed for Ajax and Generic Vehicle Architecture will find its way into MIV at some stage. Certainly, UK Boxer’s will have excellent protection.
The modularity of Boxer is both unique and widely misunderstood.
A Boxer vehicle, generally consists of two components, the Drive Module, common to all variants and roles, and Mission Module. This modular concept was integral to harmonised MRAV/GTK/VBM requirements when Boxer was accepted by the UK, Germany and France as a means of maximising commonality to drive down through-life costs, AND, meet national requirements for roles and variants whilst supporting national industry partners.
The Drive Module contains the power pack, suspension and driveline, fuel system, electrics, driver station, CBRN and fire detection/extinguishing system and rear ramp equipment.
Modules can be changed within 30 minutes as per the video below, using suitable cranes.
Cranes tend to have relatively limited availability so simple lifting jacks can also be used.
Modularity adds parasitic weight and in some cases, might restrict weight distribution, but it is at the core of the Boxer concept and has advantages in a number of areas.
The Drive and Mission Modules will have different costs but for some of the more expensive modules, turreted or command for example, the differential is significant. The Drive Model contains wearing parts, the engine, pumps, suspension and components that are subject to regular maintenance, wear and damage just from driving around, let alone arduous driving or battle damage. So when the Drive Module needs to be taken off the road for maintenance or repair, with a conventional vehicle, the ‘payload’ is also taken off the road. Inspections, changing a fuel filter or carrying out a repairing means down time for the very expensive parts of the overall package.
With a modular approach, getting the expensive modules back into service when the cheaper Drive Module is out of action is simply a case of swapping the module onto a serviceable Drive Module. In theatre technical reserves can be optimised reducing the overall logistics demand. It is this cost differential and ability to swap modules that can potentially drive overall capital and operating costs down by improving fleet availability. Modelling would allow the optimum number of drive and mission modules to be obtained.
For a specific deployment, the force package can be tailored from a large pool of modules.
Mission Modules can also be transported separately and for the heavier variants, the ability to split and transport separately allows aircraft loading to be tailored using different transport aircraft, military and civilian. Artec has developed an ISO compatible lifting and transport frame that allows modules to be transported as an ISO container or using a DROP/EPLS type hooklift.
The final advantage is one of national industry. Each user nation can develop modules and add them to the options list for others, according to national priorities or strengths. Australia might develop a repair and recovery module that can simply be purchased off the shelf by others and added to their fleet, for example.
Boxer has been improved and modified to the current A2 configuration and a number of module variants are in service, in development or proposed.
Germany and the Netherlands share a common driver training module but Lithuania has a slightly separate design for this role (shown below).
The module provides space for an instructor with all-round vision and an ability to bring the vehicle to a halt quickly. Two passenger seats are also provided for additional trainees and other personnel.
Armoured Personnel Carrier
The most common armoured personnel carrier module has blast protected seating for commander, gunner and eight dismounted personnel. The commander and gunner are provided with vision systems and three additional hatches for the dismounted personnel. Command and control systems, equipment charging and storage support extended duration mission, the German configuration, for example, has enough stores for a 10-day mission.
Stowage under armour is a defining characteristic of Boxer, the large volume affords internal space to avoid hanging soldier and vehicle equipment on the outside. It might be unfair, but look at images of Boxer in Afghanistan versus Stryker in Afghanistan and compare the stowage arrangements.
As Boxer has evolved through A1 to A2 configurations, additional stowage has been added onto the roof and on the Australian CRV, a rear mounted frame for antenna placement and equipment stowage has been added.
Dutch vehicles are fitted with the Kongsberg M151 Remote Weapon System mounting a 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun. German vehicles have the KMW FLW-200 Remote Weapon System that can also mount a 12.7mm HMG, 7.62mm GMP or 40mm GMG. Later revisions mount this on an extended height ring to allow greater depression. The 400kg FLW-200+ has also been shown with a 20mm automatic cannon.
A slightly heavier variant called the FLW-500 can be fitted with the ATK/Alliant 30mm M230-LF and use the same ammunition as the Apache attack helicopter.
Australian Block 2 vehicles will be fitted with the EOS R400 HD Mk2 RWS although the final selection of weapon seems likely to be a 12.7mm HMG
Seating has also been improved over the years, focussing on blast attenuation following experience in Afghanistan, situational awareness cameras have also been added. Personnel can also be provided with a range of creature comforts, from integral toilets to the ubiquitous boiling vessel (or ration heater), depending on how deep into the optional extra pack the defence ministry is!
Infantry Fighting Vehicle/Cavalry
The Lithuanian ‘Vilkas’ variant of Boxer uses a Rafael 1.5 tonne Samson Mk II RWS instead of the originally demonstrated version with the RCT 30 unmanned turret as fitted to the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle. The Samson is fitted with a 30mm Bushmaster cannon and Spike missiles. Commander and gunner have separate sights (daylight and thermal imaging) and can operate in hunter killer mode. The gun can also be unloaded from inside. Lithuania have ordered 88 vehicles in total, 82 in IFV, 2 Driver Training and 4 Command variants. The total contract value for the Lithuanian vehicles is 386 million Euros, or roughly £3.9m each, with KMW making 53 and Rheinmetall, the remainder.
The Australian CRV uses a Lance modular manned turret with a dual belt fed Rheinmetall 30mm MK-30/2 ABM automatic cannon and 7.62mm GPMG. It also has a RWS with 7.62mm weapon. The main gun can use programmable ammunition.
With the manned turret, the dismounted personnel seats are reduced to four. The Australian CRV uses larger 27″ Michelin XML tyres and various other changes, reflecting both national requirements and the availability of modern systems when compared to the original design, fabric air conditioning ducting and improved exhaust management in dusty terrain for example. Block II CRV’s are planned to be fitted with turret mounted Spike LR2 ATGW.
Germany and the Netherlands are reportedly interesting in turret modules for their Boxer fleets.
Both Germany and the Netherlands have different ambulance variants. The higher roof provides 17.5 m³ of protected volume and a floor-to-roof height of 1.85m.
Whilst the layouts and equipment fits differ, their flexibility allows combinations of 7 seated casualties, 3 stretcher casualties, 2 stretcher and 3 seated casualties or 1 stretcher casualty accessible from both sides and above.
The two command posts variants are specific to Germany and the Netherlands, each configured with country-specific communication and other electronic systems. In order to make them appear visually similar to the more numerous APC variants, the command variants have the same roof height.
In addition to the vehicle commander and driver, there is accommodation for three command personnel.
Engineering and Cargo
The Cargo variant can carry two 1 tonne pallets with full protection and a cargo floor system that includes a movement and stowage system. Derived from the Cargo variant, the Cargo/C2 variant has a flexible interior that can be used for command functions (with seating for 3 extra passengers, cargo transport for one and half tonnes of cargo or casualty transport with a NATO stretcher and casualty.
A Battle Damage Repair variant has seating for commander/driver and two engineering personnel, stores and equipment to effect forward repairs.
The Armoured Engineer Group vehicle has a crew of two and carries six combat engineers for mining, demining and demolition type activities, including their stores.
Flensburg have produced an armoured recovery module for Boxer equipped with both a straight pull winch and slewable crane.
The module weighs approximately 13 tonnes and has seating for two (commander and gunner, it is assumed an RWS of some sort will be specified by the customer). The recovery equipment can be used independently of the drive module as the hydraulic system is powered by an integral battery.
The capstan winch has a straight pull on 20 tonnes and is fitted with 60m of kevlar reinforced rope. The boom crane is 5.3m long and has a lifting capacity of 20 tonnes, enough to complete a pack or module change, both can be operated remotely from outside the vehicle. The module also contains a variety of pneumatic and other hand tools. When the crane slews sideways, outriggers can be deployed, retracting into the module in the stowed position.
KMW have integrated their 155mm artillery gun on Boxer.
The Automated Gun Module uses the proven 155mm/L52 barrel from the PzH2000 with an automated loading and fire control system to enable 360 ° azimuth and up to 54km range. 30 projectiles and 144 charge modules are carried with a maximum firing rate of 9 rounds per minute. It can fire with up to 6 propellant charges before needing additional vehicle support. Base bleed provides a maximum range of 40km with V-LAP up to 54km, with the latter, it can cover an area of 5,026 km². The maximum weight is 39 tonnes, well over the maximum payload of the A400M, not that it would fit anyway as it is too high.
It has been reported that KMW are working on a reduced height variant and robotic replenishment module.
Mortar and MLRS
These only exist as illustrations.
Weapon Locating and Joint Fires Surveillance
Saab have shown an illustration of a Boxer module equipped with a combination of their ARTHUR weapon locating and Giraffe 3D radar systems.
Again, concept art only at this stage.
Germany is planning a heavy Fire Support Team vehicle, a larger version of their Fennek. It is planned to be equipped with a Hensoldt BAA II surveillance system. Australia also seems to have surveillance and joint fire variant planned, the Land 400 Close Combat Storyboard illustrates the requirement.
Air Defence and Counter UAS
Although no air defence our counter UAS system have entered service on the Boxer vehicle, a number of manufacturers have either proposed or developed prototypes and demonstrators.
The Skyranger is a mature system based on a 35mm revolver cannon.
Missile based systems have also been proposed using the MBDA Mistral
Hensoldt will go one step further with a recent order from the German army for 10 Spexer 2000 3D radar systems that will be integrated on Boxer and combined with a Kongsberg Protector RWS for counter UAS for their VJTF.
Rheinmetall have recently proposed a revised lower profile Oerlikon turret designed specifically for Boxer called Skyranger 30. The uncrewed turret weighs much less (2.5 tonnes) compared to that shown above (4.5 tonnes) and is equipped with an S Band AESA Multi-Mission Radar (AMMR) that uses five flat antennae to provide 360 degree coverage with a detection range of 20km for small UAS. Effective range of the main gun is 3km but a longer range missile system, can also be fitted.
In 2013, Rheinmetall demonstrated a Boxer with a 5kw High Energy Laser (HEL) module, this continues to be developed.
Joint operational demonstrator for advanced applications (JODAA) is used for operational development of new systems, manned/unmanned teaming and command and control.
Future Land Indirect Fires
At DVD18, MBDA showed a number of concepts that were based on their existing UK Complex Weapon portfolio, for use at divisional/brigade level for the deep battle.
These are only very early concepts but the Boxer launch module could accept a combination of existing or new MBDA weapons.
KMW have developed and demonstrated a bridging module for Boxer that can use their Leguan bridge system to span a 13m gap at MLC100 or 22m at MLC50.
Pearson Engineering have also shown Boxer with their Bridge Launch Mechanism for conventional assault bridges
A number of crewed and uncrewed turrets have been shown on Boxer including one from Lockheed Martin with the 40mm CTAS and Javelin
The evergreen John Cokerill have also integrated their 3105 turret with a Boxer module
Little has been publically released by the MoD about the role and module split for the 500 or so Boxers it has on order, this is not unusual for the MoD.
We know the UK variant will have the higher output 600kW MTU 8V 199 TE21 engine and the following variants/roles.
More will become known as we progress no doubt.
|2.0||26/09/2020||Update and refresh|
|3.0||01/04/2021||Updated with Skyranger 30, Pearson BLM and EOS RWS details|
Read about the history of Boxer here
With thanks to the following