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The manufacturing of Boxer armoured vehicles for the British Army under the United Kingdom’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme officially started at the Hadley Castle Works (Telford) site of Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) on 27 March 2023, the company announced the same day.

The event is a significant milestone for UK industry because, as RBSL pointed out in its press release, the last time production of an armoured vehicle began at Hadley Castle Works was in 1986 with the production of the British Army’s  Warrior infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) fleet. While manufacture of the first production Terrier armoured engineering vehicle began in January 2010, that was at BAE Systems’ former Scotswood Road site in Newcastle.

“RBSL is proud to be regenerating this armoured vehicle capability and contributing to the Land Industry Strategy, marking a new chapter in vehicle manufacture for the UK defence industry,” Colin McClean, RBSL Managing Director, was quoted as saying in the press release. “Not only will the delivery of Boxer provide the British Army with a complete step-change in capability to meet their MIV requirement, it will also protect vital engineering and manufacturing skills as a sovereign capability to the UK and we are incredibly proud to be a part of this milestone, alongside our partners in WFEL.”

RBSL staff marked Manufacturing Day – initiation of Boxer production – at their Hadley Castle Works site on 27 March, The last time an armoured vehicle had begun production there was in 1986, when Warrior IFV manufacturing was initiated. (Photo: RBSL)

The GBP 2.3 Bn (EUR 2.62 Bn) MIV contract was awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence to ARTEC – a joint venture between Rheinmetall Landsysteme, Rheinmetall Defence Nederland BV, and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) – in November 2019. The Boxer programme will deliver more than 600 vehicles to the British Army, with production subcontracted equally between RBSL, which is a UK-based joint venture between Rheinmetall and BAE Systems, and Stockport-based WFEL, which is a subsidiary of KMW. RBSL says it has invested GBP 40 M in its 29-acre Telford site,

including the installation of system integration labs, which will support both Boxer and the British Army’s Challenger 3 main battle tanks through life with updates and upgrades; new cranes, welding equipment and surface treatment facilities; and new test facilities, including a 1.6 km test track and what RBSL claims is the largest turret test rig in Europe.

“Over the last two-and-a-half years our employees have been working hard to prepare us for ‘M Day’ – Manufacturing Day,” said McClean. “We have developed new manufacturing capabilities, state-of-the-art facilities, tools and IT infrastructure, and we have invested heavily in our people through recruitment, specialist training and development, ensuring we have the right, high-performing team to deliver our future.

“RBSL has a proud heritage of working with the British Army and remains the design authority for almost all of the UK’s in-service armoured vehicle fleet. The Boxer MIV programme builds on that relationship and marks a new chapter in vehicle manufacture for the UK defence industry.”

Peter Felstead