Under the recently signed £2.3 billion contract between UK MoD and ARTEC – the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall consortium – a significant portion of the manufacture of the 500 Boxer Armoured Vehicles for the Army’s Strike Brigades will take place at KMW’s UK subsidiary, WFEL, creating a substantial number of jobs for both WFEL and its UK-wide supply chain.
The Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle programme aims to source more than 60% by value of the vehicle content from UK suppliers and these 8 x 8 wheeled vehicles will be supplied in several different configurations, including an armoured personnel carrier, field ambulance, command vehicle and specialist carrier.Delivery of the vehicles is expected to start from 2023 and this order marks the return of the UK to a European Defence Programme, having taken part in the Boxer project while in its infancy. Boxer is now on its way to becoming one of NATO’s standard vehicles.
UK Defence Minister James Heappey said: “Investing in the Boxer programme is a prime example of Defence doing more than ever to level-up the UK economy through employment. By developing our relationship with WFEL, we are also supporting high-skilled jobs across the UK supply chain.
“This partnership ensures we engage with our people from the very beginning, connecting talented apprentices with the valuable roles Defence has to offer.”
As part of the preparations for this significant contract, WFEL has re-energised its Apprenticeship Scheme, with the first of its new Apprentice recruits recently joining the company to follow the path of Advanced Apprenticeships in Engineering Manufacture and keen to be involved in this 10-year contract.
As well as the on-going commitment to new Apprenticeships, WFEL is also actively recruiting for a substantial number of new roles to be based at its Stockport site, whilst engaging with both existing and new suppliers in anticipation of its contribution to both the North West economy and the Northern Powerhouse.
Ian Anderton, Managing Director of WFEL, said, “Our substantial involvement in the Boxer programme allows us to further develop our UK supply chain, in turn creating and protecting valuable UK engineering jobs and developing new skills for our staff and those of our supply chain partners.Working in close partnership with our KMW colleagues, we are both delighted and proud to be part of this transformational project for the British Army, with whom we have worked for many years.”
The four build configurations of British Army Boxer MIV are infantry carrier (MIV Protected Mobility, MIV-PM), ambulance (MIV Ambulance, MIV-A), command post vehicle (MIV Command and Control, MIV-CC), and specialist carrier. The specialist carrier version will be reportedly configurable to be used as a mortar carrier, engineer, reconnaissance or a joint fires vehicle. The UK vehicles have the ability to change within the variants by changing the interior, introducing different kits and assemblies depending on the mission. The vehicles will be equipped with a remote-controlled weapon system (RCWS, RWS) with a 12.7mm L1A2 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) or a 7.62mm L7A2 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), depending on the mission. They will also have missile blast as well as Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) protection.
The Boxer is a multirole armoured fighting vehicle designed by an international consortium to accomplish a number of operations through the use of installable mission modules. The nations participating in the Boxer program have changed as the program has developed. The Boxer vehicle is produced by the ARTEC GmbH (armoured vehicle technology) industrial group, and the programme is being managed by OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation). ARTEC GmbH is based in Munich; its parent companies are Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV) on the German side, and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland B.V. for the Netherlands. Overall, Rheinmetall has a 64% stake in the joint venture. The British Army will join Germany, The Netherlands, Lithuania and Australia in operating the vehicle.