Boxer APC variant with crew and troop compliment.

Concept of a ‘mission module’ (top) being fit into the general purpose chassis (bottom).

View from the rear of the Boxer chassis without a mission module in place.

German APC variant of Boxer with FLW-200 RWS equipped with 50 calibre heavy machine gun. ‘APC’ (Armored Personnel Carrier) from ‘Aliens’ becomes reality.

Boxer with Lance turret. Commander and gunner sights can be seen.

The Boxer IFV – note protected gun barrel and extensive use of AMAPS bolt-on armor modules.

Blast protected Energy Absorbing (EA) seating in Boxer.

The Boxer is a multirole modularly designed IFV designed as a joint effort by Germany and the Netherlands. It is manufactured by two large German based military companies, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall. The modular design concept was envisaged as a system to provide a vehicle that could be re-configured in a maintenance building into a number of different variants, each purposed to meet a particular military operational requirements. These readily exchangeable mission modules permit one vehicle to satisfy a number of mission roles, included armored personal carrier, fire support and reconnaissance. It is projected that the Dutch will purchase approximately 400 of the vehicles, while the Germans are planning to procure at least 600 vehicles.

The 8×8 wheeled Boxer is heavy for an IFV with a curb weight of 53,000 pounds (24 metric tonnes) and a total combat weight of 80,000 pounds (36.5 metric tonnes). The vehicle is approximately 26 feet (7.9 meters) in length, 10 feet (3 meters) wide and 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) in height. The Boxer is operated by a crew of three, consisting of a driver, commander and gunner. The driver is situated in the forward right hand side of the vehicle. The commander and gunner are located in the turret for those configuration within a turret and behind the driver in all other variants. The Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) configuration transports a compliment of 8 troops.

The Boxer is powered by a 711 hp MTU 8V 199 TE20 diesel engine that delivers an impressive power to weight ratio of 27 hp/t, a top speed of 64 mph (103 km/h) and an operational range of 680 miles (1100 km) with on-board fuel. The engine provides power to the wheels through an Allison HD4070 fully automatic transmission which offers 7 forward gear and 3 reverse gears. All wheels are fully powered with the front four being steerable (as with most 8×8 vehicles). The chassis is supported on an independent double wishbone coil suspension system and the tire pressure can be adjusted through a Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS), which is also commonly found on most modern 8x8s.

Originally the development of the innovative Boxer design was a joint effort by Britain, Germany and France that started in 1999. But the British and French left the co-operative effort to develop their own vehicle concepts, while the Dutch joined with the Germans in 2001. Early proto-type vehicles were ready by 2002 and received operational trials by the Germany army, with production approved by 2008.

The flexible vehicle design incorporates interchangeable modules to accommodate the various mission configurations. The modular design approach was seen as more efficient than developing a fleet of vehicles with unique chassis for each required configuration. It is claimed that the mission modules can be removed and replaced within an hour. The front section of the vehicle, containing the powerpack, electronics, crew and weapon station, is of a fixed design. The modules are single piece structures and are inserted into the rear section of the vehicle, similar to how a cargo box can be inserted into the bed of a pick-up truck.

Currently designed mission modules are for an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), Ambulance, Artillery Gun, Battle Damage Repair, Command Post, Engineering, Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), and Logistics vehicles. Vehicle orders have been placed by the Netherlands, Germany and Lithuania, with most of the German and Dutch vehicles being of the APC configuration.

The APC variants of the Dutch and German Boxers are armed with Remote Weapon Stations (RWS). The Dutch vehicles are equipped with a Kongsberg manufactured Protector M151 RWS which mounts a 12.7 mm HMG. The German vehicles mount a Heckler and Koch FLW-200 RWS. This system is fully stabilization, has an integrated laser rangefinder and thermal imager and can mount a 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun, a 12.7 mm M3M HMG or a 40 mm GMW automatic grenade launcher. There is also an option to upgrade the turrets to the FLW-200+ system which adds a Close Circuit Television (CCTV) camera and can mount a 20 mm autocannon.

IFV variants are equipped with the Rheinmetall designed and manufactured two man Lance turret which mounts a 30 mm autocannon. The Lance turret incorporates gunner and commander sight which can be seen in the image below to the left of the turret. The raised and rotating commander sight is situated above the stationary mounted gunner site. There is also a Lance remote-control (RC) turret available which mounts the same chain gun. This could be selected to be incorporated into future vehicle orders. Lithuania has also placed an order for Boxers which are to be equipped with an Israeli RAFAEL Samson Mk II weapon station. This system incorporates a 30 mm autocannon and mounts Spike-LR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).

The Boxer chassis is fabricated from welded ballistic steel which provides baseline 30 calibre small arms protection. The vehicles are also designed to protect against top attack bomblets and small anti-personnel mines. Seating is suspended from the ceiling to protect the crew against hull deflections resulting from a blast event. To further improve blast protection each mission module in constructed with a multiple layered crew floor which mitigates injury to the occupants by reducing the resulting floor deflections induced by the pressure wave of the mine.

Increased protection from kinetic energy penetrator and HEAT rounds is provided through the addition of modular ceramic armor tiles. The armor modules consist of AMAP composite armor (Advanced Modular Armor Protection), a 4th generation armoring system developed by IBD Deisenroth Engineering Germany and which supplants their 3rd generation MEXAS product line Overall AMAPS is claimed to provide equivalent protection of earlier systems for only 60% of the total system weight.

AMAP supposedly integrates ceramics, nano-ceramics, nanometric steels, and advanced steel and aluminium-titanium alloys into a multi-layered armor system. The improved high hardness steel used in the construction is said to defeat equivalent rounds at only 70% of the weight of comparable steels, such as ARMOX 500 and MIL-STD-46100 HHA. The newly developed aluminum-titanium alloy, Mat 7720, though much more expensive than ballistic steel, is said to provide equivalent protection as MIL-STD-12560 RHA steel at only 40% of the weight. Note that high hardness steels tend to be used on upper armored vehicle surfaces to optimize defeat of KE threats, while RHA steels, offering greater ductility, tend to be used on the lower chassis to defeat IEDs and mines.

The newly developed nano-ceramics are both harder and lighter than conventional pressed and sintered ceramics and claimed to provide equivalent protection for approximately 75% of the weight. The high fracture toughness possessed by the nano-ceramics also results in superior multi-hit capability compared to other ceramics. The armor tiles, as with many add-on armor kits, are bonded to a composite backing plate to provide support to the ceramics and distribute the significant loading on the tiles generated by a ballistic strike events. This package is then surrounded with a fabric mesh which both protects the tiles from the environment and also assists in maintaining armor panel integrity following impact.

Early production vehicles of German Boxers briefly saw deployment in Afghanistan with the German army in 2011. The vehicles were used for testing and training purposes and no action was seen. Therefore the performance of the vehicle in actual combat situations is yet to be evaluated.