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Lithuania - Vilkas IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The German infantry fighting machines "Boxer", which are called Vilkus [Wolf] in Lithuania, This is the most expensive purchase in the history of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, costing over 385 million euros. Two battalions of the Iron Wolf Brigade in Rukla and Alytus will be provided with this armor. The Vilkus was manufactured by the German company ARTEC according to the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. By common agreement between the manufacturer and Lithuania, machines manufactured in accordance with Lithuanian requirements, maintaining links with the history of Lithuania and the traditions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, are called "Wolf" instead of "Boxer".

The VILKAS IFV is a unique version for the Lithuanian Army and is equipped with the Israeli-made RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems RCWS (Remote Controlled Weapon Station) Samson MK II, a Spike LR Anti-tank missile station, a fully stabilised Orbital ATK Mk 44 30 mm dual-feed cannon, and a 7.62 mm co-axial MG. The armament is completed with a 7.62mm machine gun and MK44S 30mm chain gun. In order to keep the link with the history of Lithuania and traditions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, it was agreed that the IFVs produced for Lithuania would be called VILKAS instead of BOXER.

The Lithuanian army wanted missiles that could destroy heavily armored targets, such as tanks four and a half kilometers away. Therefore, the Spike LR system (Long Range, translated as long-range, destroying tanks at a distance of almost five kilometers) was chosen. Missiles are not cheap, one of them costs tens of thousands of euros. Representatives of the Israeli company brought two rockets to the Boxer Wolf presentation. One of them was shot during tests, the other - during a demonstration to the leadership of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. During the tests, the tank hull was located within direct visibility - two and a half kilometers away. In addition to conventional ammunition - armored vehicles, fragments, airborne explosive ammunition can also be used and programmed.

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.

Lithuania's Armed Forces will purchase infantry combat vehicles in the framework of modernization of its Land Forces, the Defense Ministry 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 US 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.

According to the 11 December 2015 decision made by the State Defense Council was selected for the needs of the Lithuanian Armed Forces by Boxer infantry fighting machines manufactured by the German company Artec. The initial list of offers submitted to Lithuania by the manufacturers of infantry fighting vehicles included 12 offers. The Boxer infantry fighting machine was chosen as the best value for money option. The decision to buy the Samson Mk2 turret instead of the German Puma is determined by the price. The Samson, with similar armament - a cannon, a machine gun and an anti-tank missile system - will cost at least a couple of million euros cheaper than the Puma.

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 planned 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.

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.

After a year of intensive testing of the Wolf at testing centers in Germany and the Netherlands, serial production of department-level combat machines for the Lithuanian Armed Forces was started. The German infantry fighting machine Boxer had to be matched with the Israeli-made Samson Mk2 turret. Participating in a purchase survey conducted by Lithuania, the manufacturers announced that both armaments products were fully compatible. Although the task of connecting the armored hull and the turret was theoretically calculated, in practice it was implemented for the first time. The armored hole adapted for the other turret had to be covered using an armored steel plate. However, once the machine is produced in series, it will no longer be, and the turret itself will be more close to the hull, and its shape may even change.

The German manufacturer suggested naming the infantry fighting car by the name "Wolf", which is often mentioned in Lithuanian history, folklore and war. German and Israeli companies had no custom of admitting journalists to industrial trials. After all, the product also looks imperfect, and various surprises can occur during testing, especially during combat shooting. The public interest was decisive in the May 2016 negotiations on the possibility of filming the first prototype of the Lithuanian Wolf: after the successful conclusion of negotiations between the producers and the Ministry of National Defense, this was the most expensive purchase of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in history.

A spokesman for Boxer's ARTEC armor group said 03 August 2016 that he would see six real partners who could help order infantry fighting vehicles. According to Stephan Hanke, ARTEC representative visiting Vilnius during the Defense Industry Days, the concern is currently interested in the opportunities of Lithuanian companies MFilter, Kalvis, Plieno fortas, Stevila, AQ Wiring Systems, Nametas. "We need to find out the potential, opportunities and number of employees in these companies," Hanke said. A representative of ARTEC emphasized that specific producers were not selected for cooperation and that the group was not limited to these six companies.

Boxer infantry fighting vehicles purchased by Lithuania will be equipped with an Israeli Samson MK2 automatic 30 mm cannon and Spike medium-range anti-tank missiles. According to Yizhar Sahar, a representative of the Rafael company that manufactures these weapons, the concern intends to apply the usual practice in Lithuania and entrust part of the production and maintenance work to local manufacturers. Deputy Minister of Economy Marius Skarupskas had not yet been able to say whether Lithuania, which buys armor, will seek to include in the contract a certain percentage of production or maintenance work that should be performed by local producers.

The Ministry of National Defense received confirmation 08 August 2016 from the International Armaments Procurement Organization (OCCAR) that all six countries on the OCCAR Supervisory Board - Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France and Germany - agree that Lithuania will join the armor administered by this international organization. This international organization, which has expert experience in managing such projects, will help Lithuania to effectively implement the process of acquiring the infantry combat vehicles.

OCCAR is tasked to procure 88 VILKAS IFV in 4 different versions for Lithuania that will be delivered until end of 2021. Lithuania will receive a total of 91 Boxer in A2 configuration, 89 as variants of the baseline IFV configuration, plus two driver training vehicles. The exact IFV breakdown is: 55 IFV squad leader, 18 IFV platoon leader; 12 IFV company leader; 4 IFV command post. A single IFV will be used for maintenance training. These armor has a high ratio of engine power to machine weight, passability, modular design, and in case of damage it allows it to be quickly restored on the battlefield and, if necessary, quickly change the purpose of the combat machine.

On 22 August 2016, Lithuania signed the agreement on the purchase of German armored boxer for almost 386 million. euros. For this amount until 2021. 88 infantry fighting vehicles will be purchased, which will be manufactured according to the wishes of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The first purchases should reach Lithuania at the end of next year.

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.

Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas signed the most expensive purchase agreement of the Lithuanian Armed Forces with German manufacturers. We chose the very best option we have found now, even though there are good enough other infantry fighting machines and expensive enough. That quality comes at a cost, but we discussed it in the State Defense Council when we received changes and proposals that were not expensive, because until then, there was talk that if the equipment was changed, it would increase by about 20 percent. price.

"With this amendment, Lithuania will present the latest version according to our wishes, which is cheaper than the version that the Germans or the Dutch had, and therefore we decided on this purchase. There were a lot of offers, from the United States, from Swiss companies, we weighed it all. And a certain component of the political part is, we bought from a NATO state, our partners also use it, both the Germans and the Dutch. We did not choose the cheapest option, which is usually the case with public procurement. We have decided that we can pay for the quality and safety of the soldiers who will use it, explained the Minister of National Defense J. Olekas.

The Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas ukas, said that the country's armed forces would be equipped with "one of the most modern machines manufactured according to the requirements set by our specialists". He said that the M113 armor currently used in the army would be redistributed to other units of the army. "Fighting machines will give the battalions, as well as the whole brigade (" Iron Wolf "), greater mobility, protection of forces, and fire power. "We will not only be able to transport soldiers on the battlefield, but also effectively participate in the battle by destroying armored and unarmed targets at a distance of four kilometers," said the general. According to him, before the delivery of armor, the Lithuanian army will have to prepare the infrastructure for their storage and repair, and prepare training and combat training programs.

Meanwhile, criticism is often heard in the public sphere that no expensive purchases would help defend against Russian military capabilities. "First of all, it is not possible to compare one to one, because armor or any other weapon is one of the components of the army. This does not mean that one armor will stand against another, as in some show, circus or the like. Another thing is very important to understand who owns that armor. Armor can be very expensive, very good, but if you cant manage it, if there are unprepared people, if there is inadequate supplies, everything can go on the dogs tail. A very good example is Yemen, where the Saudi army, equipped with the most modern American equipment, gets to the bone from the full debris, which runs barefoot in the mountains and destroys the most advanced combat equipment, said DELFI defense observer Vaidas Saldiunas.

By the end of 2017 two infantry training vehicles had been brought to Lithuania. Externally, they are almost no different from the German one for transporting the wounded. However, combat fighting machines were equipped with special equipment to facilitate the work of instructors in training drivers. Instructors would start training soldiers on how to use the Wolves in the spring. This military equipment will be provided to the Mechanized Infantry Brigade "Iron Wolf" by the Mechanized Battalion of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas and the Ulaan Battalions of the Grand Duchess Birute.

The official handover of the first two BOXER (VILKAS) series vehicles to Lithuania took place on 9th July 2019. These two Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) for the Lithuanian Army where presented to the audience with a ceremony in Rukla, home to the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf, new owner of the vehicles. Two battalions of the Iron Wolf Brigade, the Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and the Grand Duchess Birute Uhlan Battalion, will become users of the IFV VILKAS.

The Minister of National Defence, the OCCAR Director and the Chief of Defence of Lithuania conducted the formal handover together with the members of the brigade. Media representatives from Lithuanian press where also present to report the event to the public. This is one of the most ambitious projects of upgrading the Lithuanian Armed Forces in the recent years, it will help ensuring the security of Lithuania for several decades to come the Minister of National Defence, Raimundas Karoblis said.

OCCAR Director Arturo Alfonso Meirio stated in his speech, The delivery of the first two Lithuanian VILKAS Infantry Fighting Vehicles is an historical milestone for the Lithuanian Armed Forces, but it is also for OCCAR, as this demonstrates the level of support the organisation can give to its customers be it OCCAR Member States or OCCAR Programme Participating States...This programme will directly support the security and defence challenges of Lithuania and at the same time the ones of Europe and NATO.

Lithuania's incoming chief of defence, Major General Valdemaras Rupys, said 22 July 2019 he will seek to accelerate purchases of new armored vehicles and artillery systems, if the country's increasing defence spending makes this possible: I'll say with confidence that I've done everything [so that the] Iron Wolf brigade is in high combat readiness, re-armed and equipped with new equipment and weaponry [...] continuity of the Iron Wolf brigades mechanization will remain [...] I want to complete the formation of the emaitija motorized infantry brigade.

In Pabrade, at the General Silvestras ukauskas training ground, the Lithuanian Army infantry fighting vehicles "Vilkas" were tested for the first time on 25 September 2019. As reported by the Ministry of National Defense (MND), shootings were carried out with the weapon systems of these machines - a 7.62 mm machine gun and a 30 mm cannon MK-44S. Soldiers trained to make effective use of intelligent weapon management equipment and quickly destroy targets. As you can see, the level of hits is high, and the targets imitating armored equipment have been completely reduced, the report quoted Deivis Kurtinaitis, an expert of the Land Forces Training Center leading the exercise.

Another 15 IFVs were due to arrive by the end of 2019. However, the vehicles had not reached Lithuania by the end of 2019. "Some of the Boxer IFVs that Lithuania planned to receive in 2019 have not been delivered yet," the Defence Ministry said in a comment to BNS. "This is due to defects that were identified during the strict quality controls and that the manufacturer was unable to eliminate in a timely manner." The ministry expected the delivery of Boxers to Lithuania to resume in January. Meanwhile, the first two Boxers were also delivered with a delay.





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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:05:40 ZULU