British army signs contract for 500 Boxer MIV fighting vehicles

The British Defence Secretary has announced that the army will receive more than 500 Boxer 8x8 Mechanised Infantry Vehicles, which are high mobility, network-enabled armoured vehicles to transport troops onto the frontline. The contract amounts to £2.8 billion.

British army signs contract for 500 Boxer MIV fighting vehicles
Boxer MIV in ambulance variant displayed at DVD 2018 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “Our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve to have the best equipment to do their job. The Boxer vehicle is a leader in its field and I look forward to it arriving in units from 2023”.

Boxer is modular by design to meet these requirements - the same vehicle base can be rapidly reconfigured to fill different roles on the battlefield, from carrying troops across deserts to treating severely injured service personnel on the journey to the hospital.

Initially, the Army will buy a mixture of the troop-carrying variant, ambulances, command vehicles, and specialist designs to carry military equipment. Sir Simon Bollom, Chief Executive of Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), said: “This is excellent news for the Army and I’m delighted that we can now move forward with a contract for the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with the Army and our partners across the industry to deliver the best equipment and support for our troops”.

The UK announced in 2018 that it would re-join the Boxer programme within the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and explore options to modernise its vehicle fleet and meet the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement. The UK played a central role in the original design, development and testing of the Boxer. In re-joining the programme in 2018, the UK reassumed the rights it had as a project partner.

Major General Simon Hamilton, Mechanised Infantry Vehicle Programme lead for the British Army, said: “I am delighted that we have committed to delivering the Mechanised Infantry capability through the purchase of around 500 battle-winning Boxer vehicles for the British Army. Boxer completes the suite of platforms to equip our new state-of-the-art Strike brigade where, alongside Ajax, Boxer’s low logistic need, extended reach, high-mobility, and advanced digitisation will ensure Strike is ready for any global scenario. Designed on the U.S. Stryker brigades in Europe, British Strike brigades are new units to be set up to deploy rapidly over long distances across varied terrains. The brigades will combine light and heavy vehicles that can cover large areas of territory using combat teams spread across the battlefield. The Boxer will replace the Bulldog, which has been in use since the 1960s, and the Mastiff, which saw extensive use in Afghanistan.

This contract was signed ahead of the pre-election period due to the strong value-for-money agreement reached with industry and other OCCAR nations, which expires on December 31st 2019, and announced on 5th November due to expected market implications. The order will need to achieve Treasury endorsement quickly or face being delayed until after the General Election on 12 December when a new UK Government could decide the fate of the programme. Plans to purchase the vehicle were first floated in 2018 after it was selected for the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement. It remains foreseen that the first Bowers will be fielded in 2023.

Production of the vehicles for the British Army will be led by Artec, the joint venture formed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and Rheinmetall Military Vehicles Nederland with the majority of vehicles set to be built in the UK. Artec’s UK partners include BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering and Thales UK.