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Lithuania - Vilkas IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Lithuania's Armed Forces will purchase infantry combat vehicles in the framework of modernization of its Land Forces, the Defense Ministry has announced on 21 July 2014. The ministry launched its mechanization scheme, which would include supplying two battalions of the mechanized infantry brigade Iron Wolf with new vehicles during the first phase by 2020. The ministry sent letters to nine foreign manufacturers with a request to provide full information about the wheeled infantry combat machines they make. They were asked to give their replies by mid-October 2014, with purchase deals to be concluded in 2015.

Lithuania's Land Forces used M113 armored transporters, which are designed to carry troops to the battlefield but they are not combat vehicles that would be used on the battlefield to destroy armoured vehicles, ensure free manuvering and protection of forces.

In early 2015 The Lithuanian government invited bids for acquiring more than 100 light wheeled tanks. A German company participated in the bidding and a decision was to be taken by the end of March 2015. Lithuania, a member of NATO, had borrowed weapons from Germany's Bundeswehr in the past. Berlin supplied about 300 Type M113 armored transport vehicles to Vilnius from the German army's stores some years ago.

The German Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported in February 2015 that the German Defence Ministry had said that the country would not sell armored vehicles to Lithuania in the next few years. It said that in the production of new armored vehicles, priority would be given to the German armed forces. "A delivery of armored transport vehicles from the German army or the resale of vehicles that are to be procured in the next few years is not in our plans," a ministry spokesman said, according to Die Welt am Sonntag.

If Germany's Krauss-Maffei Wegmann formally withdrew it offer to sell armoured fighting vehicles to Lithuania, the country would have another nine offers to choose from, National Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert and the German Defense ministry rejected claims on 23 February 2015 that Berlin had rejected any possibility of supplying wheeled Boxer AFVs to Lithuania. German representatives reacted to a report in the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper, which suggested that the German army had rejected any possibility of supplying Boxer tanks to Lithuania.

A spokesman of the German Defense Ministry said that Berlin was willing to assist Lithuania in buying Boxers. "We are ready to do everything to support Lithuania with this deal," the spokesman said. However, the German army could not afford to lend any of its present vehicles, the spokesman said.

Lithuania planned to buy Boxer armoured fighting vehicles from Germany, the spokesman for the Lithuanian chief of defence confirmed on 09 July 2015, adding that the proposal would be submitted to the State Defence Council. "Boxer armoured vehicles have been chosen. We will propose to the State Defence Council to sign the deal," Captain Mindaugas Neimontas said.

The State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Lithuania for Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $599 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 4, 2015. The Government of Lithuania requested a sale of eighty-four (84) M 1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICV) with the ATK 30mm cannon, the XM813 30mm cannon or a European variant with the Remote Weapon Station and eighty-four (84) M2 Flex Machine Guns.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally. Lithuania's acquisition of the Stryker ICV system would represent a major advancement in capability for the Lithuanian Land Forces, filling a vital capability gap that is not currently addressed. The Stryker ICV system would provide maneuverability, speed, and firepower to the Lithuanian Land Forces and enhance Lithuanias ability to contribute to territorial defense and NATO and coalition operations. Lithuania will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.

Lithuania will open talks with German manufacturers over to purchase Boxer infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) for the country's military, the State Defence Council (VGT) decided on 11 December 2015. The decision of the VGT was announced by the chief presidential advisor on national security affairs Valdemaras Sarapinas. "The State Defence Council made the decision unanimously," he reported.

Lithuania wants to buy Boxer IFVs with Elbit System of 30mm unmanned turrets, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and Spike long range anti-tank missiles.The country plans to pay EUR 400m to purchase 88 IFVs, among which 84 IFVs will be used for combat operations and the remaining four for commanders.

The first vehicles were expected to reach Lithuania in 2017, while a complete order should be executed by 2019. The cost of the purchase is almost equal to Lithuania's entire defence budget for 2015, which stood at EUR 425m. In 2016, however, military spending was going up to EUR 575m. The purchase is being conducted via the international organisation for weaponry procurement the Joint Organisation for Armaments Cooperation (OCCAR).

According to Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas, this would to be the largest army modernisation project so far in Lithuania. He said that Boxer IFVs were the most suitable for Lithuania in terms of the provisions of its armed defence conception and operating environment. Lithuania expected the first Boxer IFVs to be delivered in 2017. According to Defence Minister Juozas Olekas, soldiers who will be using the new vehicles will have undergone training by then.

The acquisition of 88 Boxer IFVs may cost around EUR 400 million. Minister Olekas had not revealed how much the deal is worth, but said it will be below EUR 500 million, the amount publicly mentioned earlier. "I think the amount will be significantly lower than the mentioned EUR 500 million and will depend on negotiations," said Olekas. According to the minister, during the negotiations Lithuania would try to involve domestic companies in the maintenance process of Boxer IFVs. "We hope that our local manufacturers, who will be entrusted to implement a part of the project, will not be disadvantaged," said Olekas.

On 22 August 2016 it was announced that Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann would soon be supplying the Lithuanian armed forces with 88 Boxer multirole armoured fighting vehicles. Worth a total of 386 million, this is the most expensive acquisition in the history of Lithuania's Armed Forces. The important export order is set to run from 2017 to 2021. Along with Germany and the Netherlands, this will make Lithuania the third NATO nation to field the battle-tested, superbly protected, high-mobility combat vehicle. The order was placed on 22 August 2016 in Vilnius via OCCAR, the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation, which in turn contracted with ARTEC GmbH a joint venture of Rheinmetall and KMW to supply the Boxers. These will be configured as infantry fighting vehicles armed with a turret-mounted 30mm automatic cannon.

Thanks to its advanced composite armor, the Boxer is one of the worlds best-protected 8x8 protected vehicles. Moreover, it assures high mobility both on and off road, even in the toughest terrain. Powered by a 530 kW (720 HP) turbo-charged diesel engine, the Boxer has a top speed of over 100 km/h with a combat weight of 36.5 tonnes. The vehicles modular concept consisting of driver cab and mission modules results in outstanding flexibility and versatility.

The Bundeswehr already had 405 of these vehicles in its inventory, while the Dutch armed forces own a further 200. Operational experience gained in Afghanistan confirms the Boxers significant contribution to military sustainment and mobility. Among other factors, positive tactical outcomes and the compelling results of Lithuanian field trials strongly influenced the Baltic nations decision to choose the Boxer. The Lithuanian military will call the vehicle the Vilkas, which means wolf.

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