Multi-Mission Armored Vehicle
The German-Dutch Boxer utilizes a cost-effective modular hull that allows the operator to quickly change the vehicle to suit the battlefield requirement.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Boxer saw its origins in a late 1990s military requirement concerning the armies of the United Kingdom, France and Germany. However, France left in 1999 to develop an indigenous APC design that went on to become the 8-wheeled VBCI ("Vehicule Blinde de Combat d'Infanterie") Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). In November of 1999,the United Kingdom and Germany formally signed a contract to conjointly design, develop and produce a new generation of multi-wheeled fighting vehicle for their respective armies. The type would be constructed around two key elements in her overall design - the base hull and the "modular mission system", the latter adopted to the specific operator and mission requirement and removed/replaced as one whole component in about an hour. The vehicle would comprise of a multi-purpose hull, capable of mounting the latest in battlefield weaponry while at the same time fulfilling a variety of battlefield roles as needed. Such a design would help to cut down on production and procurement costs while allowing the armies to purchase just one vehicle type and modify it to suite a particular need. Additionally, commonality in parts across the various versions of the base vehicle would help in logistics and maintenance while "in the field". In the United Kingdom, the program became known under the name of "MultiRole Armored Vehicle" (MRAV) while the Germans assigned it the name of "Gepanzertes Transport Kraftfahrzeug" (GTK).
As the program gained steam, the Netherlands soon joined the collaborative effort in February of 2001. For them, the program was known under the name of "Pantser Wiel Voertuig" (PWV). In December of 2002, the vehicle was formally assigned the universal designation of "Boxer" and each participating nation would receive no fewer than four prototypes (also known as "pilot" vehicles) for local evaluation. The initial prototype - this being a Germany Army Armored Personnel Carrier - was unveiled in December of 2002.
In 2003, the United Kingdom withdrew from the program to pursue an indigenous armored vehicle design through its "Future Rapid Effect System" (FRES) program, leaving just Germany and the Netherlands to forage ahead with the Boxer program. The British eventually selecting the Swiss "Piranha V" model for its needs though production has yet to begin amidst defense budget issues and politics. At this point, the principle defense parties involved in the joint Boxer were Krauss-Maffei Wegman (KMW) and Rheinmetall of Germany and Rheinmetall Nederland (Stork) of the Netherlands. The joint effort is formally headed by ARTEC GmbH out of Munich, Germany. The second prototype appeared as a Dutch Command Post platform delivered for evaluation in October of 2003.
Externally, the Boxer fields a most conventional shape as wheeled APCs go, utilizing much in the way of sloped armor for improved ballistics protection. The vehicle sports a wide-area glacis plate that is sharply angled toward amidships. The sides of the hull are only slightly angled and the hull roof is flat. The Boxer design is characterized by its use of eight large road wheels fitted as four wheel systems to a hull side with power steering assistance delivered to the four front tires. The wheels are seated in pairs with two held towards the front of the hull and the remaining held two towards the rear. The driver maintains a front right hull seated position with vision blocks and corner-hull mounted external rear-view mirrors to guide the vehicle under complete armor protection. He also has access to a central tire regulation system that allows for adjustment of tire pressure "on-the-fly" and as the terrain ahead dictates, making for exceptional cross-country support. An access hatch is noted rearwards of the driver's position and centered at the hull roof for a commanding, unobstructed view. Smoke grenade dischargers are affixed to the rear roof of the hull. When armed, the Boxer fields a 40mm Heckler & Koch GMG automatic grenade launcher on a trainable mount. This can be replaced by the fitting of a 12.7mm M3M heavy machine gun as needed. Additionally, the heavy caliber armament can be replaced with a 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). All of the armament fittings can be fired from the within the safety of the hull, protecting the gunner and crew therein. Her primary operating crew is three personnel (driver, commander and gunner) and the Boxer has seating for up to eight combat-ready passengers. The passengers are seated face-to-face along two side-mounted groups of seats. Entry and exit for passengers is via a large powered door that doubles as a ramp when fully lowered, allowing for quick release of the occupants as dictated by battlefield conditions. The powered door also sports a smaller emergency escape hatch for obvious reasons. Interestingly, the hull does not field any firing ports for the armed occupants within - though is by design and not a forgotten feature. The Boxer will be produced with integrated radar, thermal and applicable night vision systems utilizing the latest in such technologies as well as the all-important NBC suite (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical). The Boxer was designed to be transported by the new generation of heavy, long-range transports.
The Boxer is constructed with modular ceramic armor components surrounded by hardened welded steel. She is said to offer the latest in mine protection along her underneath facings and can further protect her occupants from small arms fire and artillery spray across other facings - even at the traditionally thin roof facing. Applique armor can be added for improved point defense.
The vehicle weighs in at 25.2 tons and grosses up to 33 tons when fully combat ready. She is said to feature advanced stealth characteristics for and armored personnel carrier of this class - which in itselfis something of a fat for she is a rather large specimen when compared to her contemporaries. She fields a running length of 7.88 meters with a width of 2.99 meters and an overall height nearing 2.37 meters. The vehicle is powered by a single MTU V8 199 series TE20 diesel engine outputting 711 horsepower which is fitted to a compartment at the front left of the hull. This supplies the Boxer with an operational range of up to 652 miles at a top road speed of 64 miles per hour.
The Boxer was expected to enter mass-production in 2004. However, political wrangling between various parties and ever-shrinking defense budgets only served to delay such action until 2008. To date, with several hundred Boxers on order from both the German and Dutch armies, the Boxer is set to replace the aged M113 and Fuchs Tpz 1 vehicles for Germany and the YPR-765 and M557 APC series vehicles for the Netherlands. The Netherlands has ordered at least 200 Boxer examples in 2006 and is expected to take on a further 200. Late that same year, German authorities inked a procurement deal to net 272 Boxers for the German Army with several hundred left to be ordered at a later date as funding allows - perhaps as many as 600 total units will be purchased. Interestingly, in mid-2007, the United Kingdom considered the Boxer for its FRES program - though this obviously fell to naught.
If all proceeds as planned, the Boxer will be developed into the battlefield roles of armored personnel carrier, battlefield ambulance (including space for full medical litters), command post (additional communications), logistics vehicle, battlefield repair vehicle and 120mm mortar carrier. An anti-tank platform is not out of the scope considering the Boxer's modular design. These alternative variants will be identifiable by their higher hull roof lines to make up for the required increase in cabin workspace.