Armor: More German Armor Heads East


December 21, 2015: Recently Lithuania ordered German Boxer wheeled Infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) to replace old American M113s. This follows an earlier order for German PZH2000 155mm self-propelled artillery. Lithuania is buying 88 Boxer IFVs (84 combat + 4 command variants) plus maintenance services, spare parts and weapons for about $440 million but contract hasn’t been signed yet. The first IFVs are to be delivered to Lithuania in 2017.

The Boxer began in 1999 as a joint British- German effort to create armored utility vehicle for their forces. In 2001 Netherlands joined the program but then in 2003 Britain withdrew from the program to develop another design on their own. In 2006 both the Dutch and Germans 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 itself is an eight-wheeled armored vehicle is operated by a crew of three along with eight passengers and weighs from 25 to 33 tones (depends on the version). Moreover it’s air transportable by the new A400M. 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 steel hull with fastening bolts. This design allows quick replacement of damaged modules or easier upgrade when new armor technology develops. Moreover vehicle has triple hull floor for better protection against anti-tank mines. 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 are making it harder to detect. To ensure sufficient mobility the vehicle is fitted with a new high power 700 horsepower diesel engine which gives sufficient a power-to-weight ratio.

Boxer armament can be configured to suit specific national requirements of every country. For example German Boxers have a remotely operated gun mount with a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, while the Dutch are equipped with a 12.7-mm machine gun. The Lithuanian variant will be equipped with Israeli unmanned turret with a 30mm gun, coaxial 7.62 mm machinegun and Spike LR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). These have a max range up to 4,000 meters. This makes Lithuania Boxers the heaviest armed variant in use.

This purchase is a part of large modernization program triggered by aggressive Russian politics like the Ukrainian invasion. To fund this modernization program Lithuanian parliament have risen military expenditures on defense for 2016 by 35 percent. As a result Lithuanian defense spending in GDP will increase to 1.48 percent of GDP. -- Przeys&&22;aw Juraszek




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