On October 5, 2023, Lithuania marked a significant milestone in its efforts to strengthen its armed forces with the official opening of the Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) service facility at Rukla. The inauguration ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyt?, Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas, Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Logistic Support Command Col A. Dzidzevi?ius, and various government, Ministry of Defence (MoD), and Armed Forces representatives, showcased the country’s commitment to military modernization and infrastructure development. The new service facility boasts state-of-the-art technology designed to expedite and enhance maintenance procedures for the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ Vilkas IFVs. One standout feature is the unique oil and technical fluid handling system, which utilizes steel pipes and containers within a warehouse setting. This innovative approach not only streamlines the maintenance process but also ensures precise accounting, guaranteeing the optimal performance of the vehicles.
“As we accelerate new equipment procurement, we need to take care to have a modern maintenance and repair system for it. This facility is a great example of integrated approach to equipment maintenance and repair. Availability of maintenance for all Lithuanian Armed Forces equipment in one stop is as valuable a contribution to the strength of the Lithuanian Armed Forces as acquisitions of IFVs or other defensive military equipment additions. Our aim is to ensure the Lithuanian Armed Forces has several such facilities. Delivery of the purchased weaponry and equipment has been accelerated as a result of the changed security situation in the region. However, not only powerful combat vehicles are needed to respond to potential threats with speed and punch but also timely repair services, likewise, not only cutting-edge weaponry is required but also ammunition, planned out ammunition storage, and not only training areas but also proper roads for military equipment to move by,” said Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas at the opening event.
The project aligns with Lithuania’s ongoing efforts to bolster the technical capacity of its armed forces. To achieve this goal, the country has allocated substantial resources, with the Lithuanian Defence Budget reaching EUR 2 billion, equivalent to 2.76 percent of GDP, this year. Over the past three years, defense financing has doubled, accelerating the modernization of the Lithuanian armed forces, enhancing their capabilities, and advancing infrastructure development. Approximately 10 percent of the defense budget is earmarked for the development of the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ infrastructure, a proportion that has been steadily increasing. This robust defense spending not only strengthens national security but also stimulates the national economy. More than 60% of the defense budget remains within Lithuania, especially benefiting sectors like infrastructure development, where local contractors are engaged. The Vilkas service facility project, which concluded in July earlier this year, was carried out by a Lithuanian company, Jungtiniai Projektai UAB, and the construction work amounted to EUR 12 million.
The Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), designated as “Vilkas” or “Wolf” in Lithuanian service, has been a crucial addition to the country’s defense capabilities. Lithuania initially selected the Boxer in December 2015 and signed a production contract worth EUR 385.6 million in August 2016 for the supply of 88 Boxers, with deliveries taking place from 2017 to 2021. The Lithuanian Boxers are equipped with the Israeli-made RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Samson Mk II RCT turret, featuring a fully stabilized Orbital ATK Mk 44 30 mm dual-feed cannon, a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun, and Spike-LR missiles. These advanced capabilities make the Vilkas IFVs a formidable asset for Lithuania’s defense. Lithuania will receive four variants of the IFV, 55 IFV squad leader, 18 IFV platoon leader; 12 IFV company leader; 4 IFV command post. Variants vary by mission fit primarily in the areas of additional voice and data communication equipment as well as modified BMS. Two driver training vehicles are also included in the Lithuanian order