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)
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
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 willlikely be less and in any case, towards the top end of the payload, 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.
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/German and Australian variants differ in their tyre selection. The former has the 405/80 R27 inch Michelin X-Force XML run-flat tyres whilst the latter will be fitted with the higher rated and sand optimised 415/80 R 685 Michelin XZL 2 also in run flat configuration. All Boxer variants are fitted with anti-skid braking systems.
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 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.
The modularity of Boxer is both unique and widely misunderstood.
The vehicle consists of two components, the Drive Module, common to all variants and roles, and Mission Module. This concept was integral to MRAV, when the UK, France and Germany were playing nice. 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 cranes or simple lifting jacks.
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 have 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 separate design for this role.
Armoured Personnel Carrier
The basic 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.
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 lightly 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.
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.
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 1.85 m. 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 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, and stores and equipment to effect forward repairs. It appears Australia has plans for separate repair and recovery variants.
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.
There are a number of proposed variants and demonstrators that have yet to find customers.
Joint operational demonstrator for advanced applications (JODAA) is used for operational development of new systems, manned/unmanned teaming and command and control. 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 a surveillance and joint fire variant planned, the Land 400 Close Combat Storyboard illustrates the requirement.
The Remote Control Howitzer (RCH) mounts an unmanned auto loading 155mm 52 calibre howitzer with a magazine capacity of 30 rounds and 40 charges. With a full 360 degree azimuth and maximum range of 56km with VLAP natures, it can cover an area of 5,026 km²
In 2013, Rheinmetall demonstrated a Boxer with a 5kw High Energy Laser (HEL) module and 35mmSkyranger air defence turret.
Finally, Lockheed Martin have demonstrated Boxer with their 40mm CTA turret with Javelin ATGW. Clearly, this is aimed at the MIV requirement.
When more details emerge, this section will be updated
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Table of Contents
There are three broad stages of the UK’s involvement with Boxer, starting in the late eighties/early nineties and this is how I am going to structure this article, with a final section on the vehicle itself