German Army receives first Boxer Heavy Weapon Carrier 8×8 vehicle from Rheinmetall

German Army receives first Boxer Heavy Weapon Carrier 8×8 vehicle from Rheinmetall

As reported by ES&T on May 2, 2024, the Bundeswehr received its first Boxer sWaTrgInf Heavy Weapons Carrier 8×8 vehicle from Rheinmetall Landsysteme, just three weeks after the contract was signed. This marks the beginning of a thorough integrated verification test phase scheduled over the coming months to evaluate the vehicle’s performance against the Bundeswehr’s Customer Product Management (CPM) standards.

The testing phase involves a comprehensive assessment of the vehicle’s performance, operational parameters, and functional limits, leading to an operational test. This process is a collaborative effort involving the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw), future troop users, and industry representatives to swiftly identify and address any potential deficiencies. The results from this verification phase are crucial for obtaining authorization for operational deployment among the troops.

Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, the Army Inspector, highlighted the sWaTrgInf as a significant development for the German army’s intermediate forces, as this new vehicle, armed with a 30mm automatic cannon and MELLS anti-tank guided missile system is intended to replace the older Wiesel 1, an airborne tracked armored vehicle equipped with either a 20mm automatic cannon or anti-tank guided missile system. The Wiesel 1, developed by Rheinmetall for the German Army, has served as a light armored fighting vehicle since the late 1980s, initially designed for air-transportable support in airborne operations. Over time, it underwent various adaptations to fulfill different battlefield roles, including configurations armed with a 20 mm automatic cannon and TOW anti-tank missile system.

As reported on April 10, 2024, the procurement of these vehicles is supported by a contract signed between Germany and Australia, with the Australian Department of Defense as the main contractor and Rheinmetall Defense Australia (RDA) as a subcontractor. This contract, valued at €2.7 billion, encompasses the procurement of 123 Boxer Heavy Weapon Carrier vehicles, making Australia the largest military export to Germany to date. In Australia, Rheinmetall has become a leading supplier of military vehicles, with a history of successful deliveries to the Australian Defence Force, including the Boxer vehicles and support for the HX fleet.

The introduction of intermediate forces in the Bundeswehr’s strategy aims to bridge the gap between light paratrooper troops and heavy armored units, offering a combination of speed and substantial firepower to swiftly respond to threats while maintaining battlefield resilience. Therefore, the new sWaTrgInf heavy weapon carrier vehicle embodies this new doctrine by providing a platform that balances mobility with high-impact weaponry. The first batch of 19 vehicles is expected to be delivered by the end of 2025, with production ramping up to 25 vehicles per year starting in 2026 at Rheinmetall Defense Australia (RDA)’s facilities, culminating in the delivery of the last vehicle in January 2030.

The sWaTrgInf, or Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie, is a unique addition to the Bundeswehr’s Boxer vehicle family, procured outside the European OCCAR and the Boxer joint venture ARTEC due to its association with the Australian Boxer CRV program. Based on the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV), co-developed by Rheinmetall and the Australian armed forces, the sWaTrgInf heavy weapon carrier is armed with the Rheinmetall MK30-2 ABM automatic cannon, also used by the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle. Renowned for its high rate of fire and advanced ammunition technology, this cannon offers reliability and versatility against various threats at distances of up to 3,000 meters.

Complementing the cannon and the 7.62 mm turret machine gun, the MELLS anti-tank guided missile system is supplied by Rheinmetall in collaboration with Eurospike, a joint venture comprising Diehl Defence and Rafael. The MELLS can engage armored targets at distances of up to 4,000 meters. The Boxer’s driving module has been specially adapted to enhance its carrying capacity to 38.5 tons by reinforcing axles and wheels capable of higher load capacities, while the engine remains the same, an MTU 8V199 TE20 diesel engine generating 720 hp and 2,699 Nm of torque.

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