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First Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles officially handed over to Lithuania.

| 2019

On July 9, the first two of the 88 Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) produced for the Lithuanian armed forces by a German manufacturer were formally handed over to Lithuania, after having been informally delivered on 25 June to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf based in Rukla to carry out acceptance procedures.

First Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles officially handed over to Lithuania 3
Official handing over of the first two Vilkas IFs to the Lithuanian army (Picture source: Lithuanian MoD)

“This is one of the most ambitious projects of upgrading the Lithuanian Armed Forces in the recent years, it will help to ensure the security of Lithuania for several decades to come,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at the formal handover ceremony. The Minister underlined that “such a significant qualitative leap that strengthens our capabilities with modern weaponry matched to our needs demonstrates the responsibility we take the security situation with, the adequacy of our response and our readiness for defense.”

“However, today it is probably even more important and relevant to send a message to the Lithuanian society as well — we have paid too much for the freedom and independence already to afford to be stopped by the Vilkas project’s cost. A safe and strong Lithuania needs strong armed forces, and that requires a fundamental updating”, Minister R. Karoblis stressed.

Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt.Gen. Jonas Vytautas Žukas underlined that “the message that we are taking care of the security of our country and that we are ready to rebuff at short notice will be significantly more convincing from now on. The M133 armored personnel carriers we have been using can only bring troops to the battlefield and ensure fire support. In comparison, the Vilkas IFVs will not only transport soldiers quickly and safely but will also engage in a battle by neutralizing armored and unarmored targets effectively at the distance of up to 4 kilometers,” Lt Gen J. V. Žukas said.

The Vilkas IFV is a variant of the Boxer armored fighting vehicle developed by German manufacturer Artec according to the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The vehicles have Israel-made turrets, 30 mm MK-44S cannons and Spike LR anti-tank missiles, other specialized equipment and electronic systems.

Artec GmbH is a consortium formed by Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV), and Netherlands’s Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland B.V. Overall. Rheinmetall has a 64% stake in the joint venture. The Boxer program is managed by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), a European intergovernmental organization. Lithuania, together with the Netherlands and Germany, is a part of the IFV Boxer Supply and Maintenance Program of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). It ensures an appropriate logistical provision of the infantry fighting vehicles with the possibility to use common IFV spare parts and central depots and repair capabilities for the main systems, to receive technical and engineer support, etc., when the IFVs are operated by the Lithuanian armed forces. In order to keep the link with the history of Lithuania and traditions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, it was agreed by the IFV manufacturer and Lithuania that the IFVs produced according to Lithuania’s requirements would be called “Vilkas” instead of “Boxer”.

According to the EUR 385.6 million contract signed in 2016 by the IFV manufacturer Artec and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), all 88 Vilkas IFVs purchased by Lithuania will be delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces by late 2021. Serial production of the fighting vehicles for the Lithuanian armed forces started after a year of intense testing in training areas and testing centers of Germany and the Netherlands. The Vilkas IFVs will be used by units of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf — Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion.

The Lithuanian armed forces have also been using two Boxer DTVs without the weaponry systems specifically for training military drivers since 2017. The initial in-service logistical support package includes spare parts, support and test equipment, technical and training documentation, and training equipment is also received.


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