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The German Bundeswehr has commissioned Rheinmetall to supply Boxer 8×8 multi-role armoured vehicles equipped with the 30 mm cannon-armed Lance turret to fulfil its ‘Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie’ (Heavy Weapon Carrier for the Infantry) requirement, the German company has announced.

The contract was signed on 21 March 2024 after the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag approved the proposal the previous day.

The Bundeswehr is to procure up to 123 Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie vehicles under a contract worth around EUR 2.7 billion that also includes service and maintenance. Delivery of the Boxers is scheduled to begin in 2025.

The Heavy Weapon Carrier for the Infantry is based on the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV): the wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicle supplied by Rheinmetall to the Australian Defence Force that features an armoured reconnaissance mission module including the two-person Lance turret. The vehicle’s main weapon is the Rheinmetall MK30-2 ABM automatic cannon, which is also installed in the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle. In addition, the MELLS (Mehrrollenfähiges Leichtes Lenkflugkörpersystem) multi-role guided missile system, which enables the Heavy Weapon Carrier for the Infantry to provide anti-tank defence, will also be fitted.

“We are very proud to have been selected to supply the Schwerer Waffenträger Infanterie: an essential element of the German Army’s new ‘medium forces’ force category,” Armin Papperger, chairman of the Rheinmetall executive board, was quoted as saying in a company press release. “In order to be able to provide the army with the required combat vehicles as quickly as possible, we are integrating not only our German but also the Australian sites in our Rheinmetall network.”

The vehicles earmarked for the Bundeswehr will thus use production capacities at Rheinmetall’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Redbank, southeast Queensland, which produces the Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles for the Australian Defence Forces.

Comprehensive German-Australian co-operation on this programme was initiated in 2023. In July 2023 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed a corresponding agreement in principle in Berlin on the fringes of a visit to Germany. A declaration of co-operation had previously been signed in Canberra on 23 March 2023 by Australian Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy and German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence Thomas Hitschler. This lays the foundation for further contractual arrangements between the Australian and German ministries of defence and Rheinmetall.

“The Bundeswehr Boxers, some of which are to be built at MILVEHCOE, are based on the design of the successful Australian Boxer wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicle,” noted John Abunassar, head of Rheinmetall’s Vehicle Systems Division. “This would be one of the largest Australian defence exports in the country’s history and supports Rheinmetall’s goal to further develop the capabilities of the Australian defence industry and integrate it into the company’s global supply chains.”

“Rheinmetall has more than 900 employees in Australia, high-tech capabilities and an established manufacturing facility in Redbank that produces vehicles, armour and electronics,” added Nathan Poyner, managing director of Rheinmetall Defence Australia. “Our Australian and global supply chain will grow and bring further prosperity to small and medium-sized businesses as we secure new orders to complement existing export programmes. We welcome the close defence industry partnership between Australia and Germany as the two nations work together to enhance global security.”

The Boxer 8×8 multi-role armoured vehicle is in service or under procurement with various armed forces around the world. According to Rheinmetall, the Boxer provides increased safety and protection for crews and has a high level of firepower and mobility for prolonged peacekeeping operations as well as near-peer conflict.

In Australia Rheinmetall is the largest supplier of military vehicles to the country’s armed forces. In addition to the 211 Boxer vehicles delivered as part of the Land 400 Phase 2 project, 133 of which are CRVs with the crewed Lance turret, the company also supports the Australian Defence Force’s HX fleet of over 2,900 high-mobility trucks.

The Bundeswehr’s Heavy Weapon Carrier for the Infantry will be based on the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) supplied by Rheinmetall to the Australian Defence Force. (Photo: Rheinmetall)