Armor: German Boxer CRVs From Australia


April 25, 2023: Because of experience from and in the Ukraine War, Germany is spending heavily to upgrade and expand its ground forces. This means more of everything, including armored vehicles. German firms have long been major developers and manufacturers of armored vehicles but the demand now is so great that Germany must import some. Such is the case with the Boxer 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle which was developed and manufactured in Germany by local firm Rheinmetall. Demand for Boxer vehicles is so heavy now that Rheinmetall had to call on Australia to help build more for Germany. Australia is a major customer for Boxer and builds its own Boxers locally under license. The local production facility, Rheinmetall Australia, obtains most of the components needed locally, and now has a contract to produce 128 Boxers for the German military. These will replace elderly tracked Wiesel 2 armored vehicles. Deliveries of the new Boxers are configured as CRVs (combat reconnaissance vehicles) and deliveries will begin in 2025. This vehicle is based on the Boxer CRV built for Australian forces. This is a 30 ton vehicle with a turret armed with a 30mm autocannon and 7.72mm machine-gun. There is a crew of three (commander, driver, gunner) and space in the back for an additional six troops or cargo.

Boxer CRV has a top road speed of 103 kilometers an hour and max range on internal fuel of 1,050 kilometers. Electronics include encrypted radio and several handheld surveillance devices. As a combat reconnaissance vehicle, Boxer is often used to lead an advance by mechanized forces and survive first contact with the enemy. In situations like Boxer can be equipped with the Israeli Iron Fist APS (Active Protection System) that will defeat ATGMs (Anti-tank guided missiles) and anti-tank rockets. Iron Fist weighs about 250 kg (551 pounds and has a long track record of successful use in combat.

Germany and Britain began Boxer development in 1999 and was joined by the Netherlands in 2001. Then Britain withdrew in 2003 only to return fifteen years later. Meanwhile, in 2006 the Dutch-German consortium agreed to buy 472 Boxer vehicles; 200 for the Dutch and 272 for Germany. In 2008 Boxer successfully completed trials with the German Army and in 2011 five Boxers were used in Afghanistan, where none were lost. The Boxer was then purchased by Lithuania (89 in IFV configuration) and Australia as a Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (over 200 so far).

The Boxer is air transportable by C-130 and A400M four engine aircraft. Its design is modular for maximum flexibility. Every chassis can be equipped with different snap-in modules for different purposes like infantry carrier, command vehicle, ambulance, supply carrier, IFV and so on. These modules are interchangeable and can be added or removed in less than an hour.

The modular armor is ceramic and is attached to the steel hull with fastening bolts. This design allows quick replacement of damaged modules or easier upgrades when new armor technology develops. Moreover, the vehicle has a triple hull floor for better protection against anti-tank mines and roadside bombs. For survivability, front armor can withstand 30mm autocannon rounds, while the all-round protection can withstand 12.7mm fire. This is accompanied by lowered radar, thermal and acoustic signatures which make it harder to detect.

Boxer armament can be configured to suit specific requirements of every user. Available weapons selection is pretty wide from light remote-controlled gun stations, turrets with autocannons up to even low recoil 105mm and 120mm guns. For example, German Boxers have a remotely operated gun mount with a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, the Dutch ones are equipped with a 12.7-mm machine gun while the Lithuanian variant uses an Israeli unmanned turret with a 30mm gun, coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and Spike LR ATGM with a range up to 4,000 meters. The Australian CRV variant uses a "classical" LANCE 30mm two-man turret fitted with 30mm MK-30-2 autocannon together with Spike LR ATGM.

Meanwhile, Britain settled on four Boxer variants: Infantry Carrier, armed only with a 7.62mm machine-gun RWS (remote controlled station), Specialist Carrier, Command, and Ambulance. The last three were ordered in much smaller numbers. Boxer is expected to serve around 30 years and, together with the Ajax tracked recon vehicle, will complete the replacement of Cold War era armored vehicles and serve British armor needs for several decades. So far there are orders for about 1,200 Boxers from all users, with about half of them delivered.




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