ARTEC consortium member, KMW, has concluded a further contractual agreement with WFEL for the production over ten years of Boxer Vehicle Drive Module fabricated hulls – together with a further contract for the Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) of approximately half of the 500 vehicles to be supplied to the British Army, under the £2.3bn contract signed with ARTEC at the end of 2019.

The firm say that this is a significant milestone for the UK Boxer MIV Programme and for the UK’s military vehicle capability, with the advent of manufacturing a new class of armoured vehicles here in the UK.

“This next phase of the Boxer MIV programme also embeds within WFEL welding practices specific to the manufacture of armoured steel hulls for highly protected vehicles, further developing a key skill for the UK Military Land sector. WFEL is already accredited to International Welding Standards TL2350-0003 and ISO 9606-1 and a number of WFEL personnel have, for many months, been seconded to Germany to learn the intricate details of this specialist skill, under the expert tuition of KMW’s experienced technicians. On successful completion of their rigorous training, these personnel will play a crucial part in the production of the Boxer Vehicles in North West England. The signing of these contracts now allows further mobilisation of WFEL’s UK supply chain, including placement of firm orders to procure a variety of the machined and fabricated sub-assemblies necessary for manufacture of the Boxer hulls.

Following extensive Technology Transfer programmes and close collaborations with the ARTEC consortium, WFEL continues to develop a robust UK supply chain with technically capable suppliers. Detailed discussions with UK fabrication and machining SMEs are now going ahead for the provision of specific Boxer Drive Module hull assembly components. This further development of WFEL’s supply chain is expected to both sustain and create jobs around the UK. Additionally, WFEL will further ramp-up its recruitment of yet more specialist Operational and Fabrication personnel. WFEL expects to create around 120 new long-term jobs at its Stockport site, supporting the UK defence industry and the UK economy.”

Ian Anderton, WFEL’s Managing Director, commented in a statement:

“The Boxer vehicles are amongst the most advanced armoured vehicles in the world and WFEL’s new state-of-the-art Boxer production hall, currently nearing completion, will be one of the most advanced military vehicle manufacturing facilities of its type. We have already contracted with a number of UK suppliers for the construction, site infrastructure and security facilities for this new production facility. The signing of these latest contracts with KMW means that WFEL can confidently move forward to implement the next stages of the UK Boxer manufacturing programme.

In doing so, we are offering a significant number of long-term career opportunities for highly skilled personnel to work on producing these advanced military vehicles, which will provide key defence capabilities for the British Army as part of its Strike Brigade. We look forward to engaging with yet more supply chain partners as we move another step closer to the first of these uniquely modular military vehicles rolling off our production lines and being delivered to the British Army.”

4 5 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
81 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
maurice10

I recently heard a comment, that it would be highly likely Rheinmetall would build a facility in the UK if it won the CH2 contract! If true, that would be a very powerful argument to go ahead with the upgrade? The Boxer is proving to be doing just that, bringing to the UK jobs in manufacturing.

I have a sneaking idea more German and French manufactures, across the board, will see a ‘Free To Trade’ UK as too tempting to ignore?? Let’s face it, how much longer can Brussels keep EU trade practises so restrictive?

Jack

I think we should crack on and select the 130mm gun, who knows we may end up exporting it to Germany, France and others 🤣🤣🤣

Daveyb

If we do go down the 130mm gun route, it will effectively kill off the need of a loader, as the rounds are too big and heavy. Thus necessitating the need for an autoloader. It does seem that both France and Germany fancy going to the larger calibre, as their specification for the Leclec and Leopard replacement, must have a main gun that has better penetrative power than the current 120/L55 gun. If they do go with the 130 gun, then it makes sense for us also to use it. Doing away with the loader does mean the tank can… Read more »

maurice10

Can the CH2LEP take a 130 gun without adding to what could be a very heavy tank, and possibly, the slowest in the World?

Ron5

Of course, and the Challenger across country is one of the fastest tanks thanks to its recently upgraded hydrogas suspension. But don’t let facts gets in the way of your comments.

peter wait

Got the same hydro gas at the moment, however upgraded units were developed.

Graham Moore

CR2 was very fast in complex terrain even before revised hydrogas. Some people just look at P/W ratio, thats the problem.

Last edited 13 days ago by Graham Moore
Graham Moore

CR2 has always been fast across complex terrain due to its excellent suspension. Some people just look at P/W ratio and thats the problem, rather than end output performance figures. I had not heard that revised suspension had been fitted though.

maurice10

Ron5, you questioned my claims that the CH2LEP would weigh in around 85 tons and suggested it was fiction on my part. Well, read DaveyB’s ‘A shade under 80 tonnes in standard form,’ but if you add reactive side plates and LEP kit either as Black Knight or a new turret, 85 tonnes is very likely, which has to effect rough ground performance?

peter wait

Have seen a 3rd gen suspension unit , must be catching up with mountain bikes lol

peter wait

The July order was for 60 right hand and 60 left hand units to be upgraded to gen 3. Seems odd number as this would be 10 vehicles?

Daveyb

The M1A3 Abrams with the TUSK kit comes in a shade under 90t (short). The Challenger with the theatre entry standard kit is a shade under 80t. Apart from the LEP upgrade, there is a separate upgrade for the engine and gearbox. I thought it was JCB that was doing the work but I think it’s actually Perkins (Caterpillar), who will be replacing the turbos and converting it to a common rail diesel. This will raise the power from 1200hp to 1500, but there is scope to go to 1700hp. Also part of the upgrade is to the final drive… Read more »

SD67

Highly dubious about the practicalities of stretching a power pack 30%+ beyond its design output and adding 25% plus weight to a chassis designed in 1978. With all the resulting increased stress on the driveline components, either longevity will suffer or every component will end up being replaced, in which case why not just start with a blank CADCAM screen and design a new tank.

This generation of heavy MBTs is clearly at the end of their development life. MGCS is following T14 down a different path ie auto loader, 130mm and lighter weight.

DaveyB

I agree the Condor engine upgrade is driven by cost. Perkins have a new larger cc marine 1500bhp diesel that’s not lot bigger than the Chally’s Condor that looks like it would fit. The MoD/Perkins clearly believe the additional 300hp is not only doable but balances out the probability of increased maintenance, rather than use a new larger engine. I know from friends that the engine is more than capable of taking the extra power. It’s almost like Perkins knew when designing the engine it could be boosted. With all the additional extras, it’s not the engine that wears early,… Read more »

SD67

Really interesting stuff thanks for the info. Colour me scpetical at the moment on Chally upgrade, especially given the likely small numbers, I’d really rather see the army start with the a blank sheet. There must surely be partners we could work with – Poland, Italy perhaps.

Ron5

An autoloader doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of the 4th crew member.

DaveyB

It depends on what job the 4th crewman will be doing? It would be pointless to put them in the turret, better off having a two man turret with the gunner and commander. If the tank was designed along the lines of the Merkava with the engine up front. Then the space behind the turret could be utilized. By having the 4th crewman as an observer and drone controller. If the future tank has a plethora of digital cameras around it, a fourth pair of eyes would help situational awareness, if they also controlled a small vtol drone. It could… Read more »

TrevorH

I can’t help think that a Merkeva type design is more in keeping to what we would need. We are these days less likely to be in open desert more likely constrained terrain. More likely to have tanks close with infantry and infantry close to tanks.

Paul.P

interesting; can you expand on that please. If you are saying that the most likely future deployment of C2 will be in urban situations what would you propose that would imply for a C2 upgrade and for the Warrior and Scout programs?

Joe16

Surely if the technology exists to reliably and rapidly feed large calibre ammunition into a gun while on the move, at a range of elevation angles, we can also specify an “autobrewing vessel”, or ABV for short? Once again, as with the originally specified BV, UK AFVs will be the envy of NATO!

James Fennell

No need to get too excited about autoloaders, the Soviets needed them as they had a small turret ring and tiny turrets, but don’t add very much except a reduction in crew numbers.

James Fennell

Challenger 2 is not slow and had great cross country performance – you are thinking about Chieftain, are you not?

peter wait

130 mm round is listed as 66 lbs and 1.3 m, seems a bit of a handful in turret lol

JohnN

This is the new Rheinmetall Facility that was just recently completed and opened here in Australia:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DKIBqLdj9b4

It will be used for manufacture, assembly and testing of the Australian Army Boxer CRV fleet, it is also being used for manufacture and assembly of the Army’s new heavy truck fleet too.

And if the Rheinmetall Lynx KF41 IFV wins against the South Korean AS21, they will also be manufactured in the same facility.

Ron5

And relevant to this article how?

Gavin Gordon

Thanks for the interest

Barry Larking

Thanks. Most interesting background information.

Paul.P

Thx for this. It does demonstrate the sincerity of Rheinmetall and also their faith in local people. BMW rejuvinated the Oxford and Swindon Mini manufacturing plans. I often think they have more faith in us than we have in ourselves.

peter wait

Up to 2006 they had crappy Rover gear boxes that often did not make it pass 60k, window motor and door locks high failure rate compared to Japanese cars

Graham Moore

I thought Rheinmetall had teamed with BAE Systems to form a JV principally to do the CR2 LEP work. So just use a BAE site?

Mark

Graham, BAE Systems doesn’t exist in reality. Rheinmetall brought a 51% in BAE UK Land Systems and it is now known as RBSL.

Pete

500 over 10 years…. Thats averaging @1 per week? Feels low and inefficient.

Ron5

Seems odd that two UK manufacturing sites are required. One would clearly be sufficient.

Steve

I suspect its more about politics than efficiency.

I kinda feel that most military contracts could be built in a fraction of the time, if it wasn’t about job generation and upfront cash issues.

BB85

Exactly, that’s why LM manufactures components for the F35 in almost every state in America. Its crazy but its all about votes.

Simon m

There are 2 sites as Artec is the company we have the contract with and it is a consortia of KMW and Rheinmetal. WFEL is a subsidiary of KMW & RBSL consists of Rheinmetal contribution. So 50% each. This down to the OCCAR arrangements etc. There was some talk in the defence committee about speeding up delivery. So hopefully they will get on it especially now with hopefully extra funding being available. In terms of LEP and engine CH2 will get most likely a common rail technology upgrade this will allow digital control of the engine & with some part… Read more »

Dern

Just like the Japanese production of their tanks. You can order 500 and make them really quickly, but then you build a factory, build 500 boxer, and have to close the factory within 6 months and lay the work force off because there is no follow on order. Building them over a long period of time means the factory stays open, people stay in the job, and, if you ever need to, it’s much easier to scale up production. It sucks because I’d love to see all the boxers in service sooner rather than later, but I understand WHY they… Read more »

Andy

Exactly why I laugh when u hear” we should have all the f35 now” u know it’s an internet warrior with no knowledge of defence.

BB85

I was hoping we would be ordering closer to 1,000 over 10 years. If we scrap warrior and order 350 turreted boxers plus a 120mm morter, mlrs, star strek, brimstone carrier we could easily double our current order.

Ron

From my understanding it is 500 with an option for a further 900. I think that is why the factory was built. I would if the budget would allow take the option with more modules for example the air defence modules such as Skyranger, the Mk44 40mm gun module and the RCH155 gun modules, possibly develop a 100mm or 120mm anti tank gun module, same gun that is on thanks. These vehicles could be given to the light infantry to operate as fast, mobile units in the strike role, recce role and skirmishing role whilse heavy infantry would be in… Read more »

T.S

This might be an area where we see an uplift in numbers and module types with the extra money now secured. Especially if they do away with heavy armour. An article on Think Defence stated the requirement for the boxers should be about 2000 in the end in order for the strike brigades to function properly.

Graham Moore

Why would the army do away with heavy armour, particularly when no-one else is, especially Russia. Its not a trend. I assume you mean CR2 and its supporting WR and AS90s. For the army to lose these premier capabilities would be like the Navy losing its carriers and T45s and the RAF losing its Typhoons and F35s.

John Clark

Unfortunately Graham, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Challenger 2 was on the chopping block, there has been specific mention of getting rid of obsolete capabilities ….

I’m not saying I agree with this, but I can certainly see a rapid reaction / Maritime shift going on and MBT’s don’t fit terribly well….

I can see them using the new light mobile USMC ethos as a blue print for the new direction…

DaveyB

The USMC dropping its heavy armour is strategic move away from contested beach assaults. They are looking more at the raiding side of things, where mobility is key. If they need to do a contested beach assault they will call on the Army to provide the heavy support. The USMC is being refocused on the Pacific, pretty much with the same intentions as WW2, i.e. island hopping. To base our operating concepts on the USMC model would be a mistake.

Dern

Indeed. CR2, WR and AS90 need modernising, not scrapping, we also need a clear directive on what the army is expected to do (not just “Everything with less.”)
I also still have to laugh at people who have this mad idea that “Tanks are not expeditionary.” (Every single deployment of British and American tanks has been expeditionary), or those that ignore the USMC’s restructure is in an environment where they can, if they need to, call on over 1,000 US Army M1 Abrams.

John Clark

To add to the point regarding our MBT capability, it was kept at 250 to allow an armoured division of 80-100 tanks at its core to be deployed.

If we upgrade, but drop the number to 150 say, we cease to be able to deploy in divisional strength (the only times they have seriously been called upon in 30 years) and become a very expensive ‘nice to have’ toy….

So, upgrade and keep 250, or let them go….

Tough call, but we have been warned a few ‘old’ capabilities are for the chop…

AlexS

I think the least worse option is to replace Challenger with M1, US Army have too many because Congress keeps ordering them for jobs.

John Clark

Good point Alex, we could probably get them on the cheap…. Makes a lot of sense to keep parity with uncle Sam.

SD67

The reality is we’re not deploying heavy armour anywhere when the potential enemy is now 2000 miles away. It’s expeditionary medium weight warfare from now on with maybe 1 brigade of armour forward-deployed in Poland

Paul.P

I agree forward basing in Poland is the realistic strategic justification and capability benchmark for any Challenger 2 upgrade.

BB85

Do we have any forward basing in Europe anymore? Tbh I would rather we focused our support on the Navy, Air force and deploying medium armour around the world where they are likely to be utilised. Poland and Germany can invest in heavy armour to act as a deterent to Russia. Russia is never going to invade nato so the UK investing billions to forward base assets in Poland doesn’t make sense.

Paul.P

Agree on navy focus. I guess it depends on our relationship with Russia. Our current support for the Baltic States and Poland seems to be rotating NATO aircraft and joint exercises. According to wiki Poland has 1000 Leopard tanks and Germany the same in various states of repair. On balance I probably agree. It makes sense for our contribution to be Typhoons and Brimstone.

Paul T

Germany and Poland would struggle to get 500 Leopard 2 Tanks between them,1000 each is well off the mark.

TrevorH

Yes, at the most. We need proper wheeled armoured infantry and proper wheeled artillery, long range artillery that can beat the bejeezus out of our enemies.

Plus plenty top grade elite light infantry.

Airborne

Boxer, good bit of kit but as ever, as at this time with the modules (or lack of them) being procured, it will be an under utilsed vehicle akin to a bloody Saxon. Quick (ish) fix, chin of x 2 Battalions worth of Warrior upgrade, put those 40mm turrets onto Boxer (to give them a bit of kinetic effect), and utilise the Warrior hulls to replace all the 432s still knocking about. Yes I am aware the hulls are also a bit shagged, but still more useful than the 432s, and commonality of spares/repairs. Then have one decnet “square” Brigade,… Read more »

Ian

Hi Airborne…….would it not be better to buy new rather than update a 40 year old vehicle ?

John Clark

It’s a good point, I think if Chally2 goes, then Warrior will go too, perhaps both replaced with an air portable tracked / wheeled middle of the road vehicle.

A sort of all things to all men, carrying troops with a 105mm gun option…….

BB85

C2 won’t go, the press would have a field day on the nation that invented the tank giving it up due to cuts. Boris would then reverse the decision 2 weeks later. If there are cuts to be made it will be Warrior LEP, the chassis are done, everyone knows it including the Army and LM. They need new power packs and new suspension to carry the armour which means the only thing left will be the beat up hull. The LEP should have been cancelled 4/5 years ago when LM confirmed they messed up the turret and had issues… Read more »

John Clark

We will see, I’m not convinced it wont be for the chop. Like I said earlier, if numbers are cut to 150, there is little point keeping them. Once numbers drop below 250, the ability to deploy in critical mass (100 tanks) is gone and MBT’s become a bit of a useless chocolate Tea pot! If there is another multi national bun fight involving tanks and we say we can send 30 ‘ish’ at a push, uncle Sam would say, don’t bother, just keep out the way…. Basically, upgrade 250 Challengers, replace with a M1A3 buy of 250 or don’t… Read more »

peter wait

With a 700-1000 round barrel life some think the CTA 40 was a Nimrod !

Daveyb

I know quite a few people are slagging off the Warrior, but for what it is and what it has achieved has been above and beyond its original cold war design. It is still an outstanding piece of kit. I would even say it has performed better than Bradley. However, time marches on, as does the threat. The theatre entry standard adds nearly an additional 10 tons of applique armour. The drive train can’t cope with any more. To make it cope it needs new suspension and a more powerful engine. On top of that it is getting a new… Read more »

Daveyb

I know speaking to some friends, they can’t get Boxer soon enough. The problem is that they currently have Mastiffs, which are ok if you’re doing policing work. But in no way should they be anywhere near a peer adversary.

AlexS

Boxer is also a death trap the anti tank missile overmatch is too big, even tanks are dead is the hit comes from top. They need APS that works. The battleship in land ended like the battleship at sea 75 years ago.

BB85

So put an APS on it if its going to be deployed where its at risk from atgm’s. Every apc is at risk from atgm’s

Airborne

Anything wandering the battlefield can be a deathtrap, Boxer, Warrior, its what you do to protect and defend those assets which is the key. All armour is weaker top side, so let’s spend some money on active defensive systems. Armour will always remain, as will the efforts to defeat it.

peter wait

Aluminium hulls have a shorter life than steel due to corrosion, age hardening and delamination. 430 series are much cheaper to run than Warrior which is why they seem to like keeping them. The rebuild line at Donnington did not close that long ago so the current warriors have a bit of life left in them, don’t know how well they will cope with heavier turret and high recoil of 40 mm. Would make sense to use turrets on boxer if project is cancelled !

Paul.P

It’s difficult to over emphasise the importance of the decision to effectively rejoin the Boxer program. The UK was welcomed back and we will accrue real UK industrial benefits. Boxer simplifies decision making in the task of sorting out the melange of our army vehicles. Now we simply have to ask the question ‘is there a Boxer that can do this job’, if not what is the best way to achieve what we need. We had got ourselves into a mess and if we had gone with VBCI I suspect we would have dug ourselves into a deeper hole. Boxer… Read more »

Mike Saul

Totally agree Boxer is the right choice. We left the original programme due to a lack of funding whilst the political spin at the time tried to say it was the wrong vehicle for the British army.

It was the right vehicle then and is the right vehicle now

The only reservation is the lack of version equipped with a 30/40mm cannon and/or LRATGW.

Barry Curtis

With the ongoing defence review 2020/21 showing signs that it is already sidelining the army from being able to replace its ageing equipment, after revealing the big ticket projects – Space, A.I, Cyber and type 32 frigates. It does not leave much in the kitty. Personally I feel that the review needs to place the nuclear deterrent on the table, so that it can be axed, by doing so, it would free up £167 billion pounds over what would have covered its future service life. Early rumors have suggested that the army may lose its tanks, so by using this… Read more »

John Clark

During the wars in the sandbox, the funding taps prioritised the Army, as far as maintaining thousands of troops in theatre, year in, year out anyway. Traditional elements (like MBT’s) witherd on the vine, with numbers cut and upgrades kicked into the long grass, money was spent instead on huge numbers of shortsighted UOR procurements….. There was no plan, support for the Desert wars massively damaged our armed forces, with the RN sliced to the bone, in a totally disproportionate way. The Labour ( and Cameron) government was so bloody shortsighted, it couldn’t see a point to the RN and… Read more »

BB85

UOR purchases did not come out of the MOD budget. That’s why brand new vehicles like Warthog where sold off as soon as their deployment in Afghanistan ended, if the army had kept them the full cost would have come out of the MOD budget. The army has no excuse for how it botched procurement over the last 20 years. If we stuck with Boxer we would have received over 800 starting in 2012. Had we selected BAE to develop Ajax and Warrior LEP with the CTA40 Turret they co developed both vehicles also would have been delivered by now… Read more »

John Clark

The whole ethos on defence was massively botched from Sep 11 2001. To be fair to Blair (god help me I hate that warmonger) its easy to forget that he oversaw, though it was started under the John Major, a renaissance in the UK’s Amphibious capability and started the Aircraft Carrier renewal process… Then Sep 11th happened and our our defence planning was thrown right out of the window …. The RAF and the Royal Navy were both massively damaged as a result of being seen as not terribly relevant in the fight against terrorism, with the RN seen as… Read more »

peter wait

You can’t defend Blair, he ordered Panther, making a good light jeep into an expensive, heavy and unreliable thing with no room. It cost 2 x more than better protected vehicles and was not even on list. Brakes overheated, laminated windows fogged up, grp grill, broke drive belts, belly armour had to be removed to grease props-no access plates. wallowing off road made people sick, centre of gravity too high. It can only be his Nimrod !

Daniele Mandelli

A fine post John.

Barry Curtis

Thanks for your view John, Sorry if you felt that I was undermining the Royal Navy, that is the last thing I would do, my Brother had served in the senior service for 19 years. What I meant to say was, when the defence review season is ongoing, all the old budget battles between the services start to creep in, it certainly hasn’t helped since 2010 in finding that the intelligence services also want a piece of the financial pie. The Royal Navy deserve to have the extra hulls in the water, I feel that manpower may become an issue,… Read more »

John Clark

Hi Barry, no I didn’t think you were undermining the RN in any way.

I just cant see how we could remove our nuclear capability for the foreseeable future, 20-40 years.

We simply need it to guarantee our security…. Wonderful if we didn’t though!

Barry Curtis

Hi John, the MAD strategy will always confuse the overall defence thinking, government has got so complacent that it has relied too much on the deterrent over the years. Thinking needs to move towards, what assets can the UK provide our allies with, at the moment the MOD is trying to cover every conceivable type of warfare. What we need to do, is reduce our commitment to the Baltic’s and concentrate our forces on the High North and leave Europe to the other NATO members to defend. That’s were the UK Joint Expeditionary Force would become a strong deterrent in… Read more »

Airborne

You may say short sighted UORs, but me and my lads say those short sighted UORs saved more lives than you can imagine. Forgive me if I can’t go all civvy and whine about those UORs, as we loved them. Aside from that, totally agree with your post, cheers.

John Clark

I can’t argue with that Airborne, have a great weekend mate….

Airborne

Stay safe Mate!

Paul T

I quite like this – almost makes the C2 look Factory Fresh https://twitter.com/thepagey/status/1329810911616512000/photo/1