Image: Rheinmetall Defence
The British Army has re-joined a programme exploring a deal for a fleet of new armoured vehicles, potentially supporting at least 1,000 British jobs.
The UK will re-join the Boxer programme and consider options to equip the Army with the 8x8 troop carriers to meet the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement.
Any deal will be subject to commercial negotiation and assessment in 2019 but the aim is to have the first vehicles in service with the Army in 2023.
A MOD market analysis of Mechanised Infantry Vehicles in-service found the Boxer delivered on protected mobility, capacity, flexibility, utility and agility.
The UK played a major role in the original design, development and testing of the Boxer.
If a deal was to go through, the UK would regain the rights it had as a project partner – meaning the vehicle could be built and exported from the UK.
It means the Boxer could be fully assembled in the UK with at least 60% of the manufacturing with British industry.
Artec, the consortium who manufacture the Boxer vehicle, have already made commitments to British industry by signing partnership agreements with BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering and Thales UK, in anticipation of a deal being struck.
It is expected that British companies would compete for the manufacture and supply of many of the vehicle sub-systems, as well as for a full production and assembly line in the UK.
Estimates suggest Artec’s planned investment in the UK could secure or create at least 1,000 jobs.
Rolls Royce already powers Boxers with engines and Parker-Hannifin, William Cook Engineering and other British companies also supply sub-systems for the vehicle.
The MOD is now taking forward negotiations with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and Artec.
The Assessment Phase, concluding in 2019, will consider the comparable benefits of manufacturing locations and different supply chains for Boxer, as well as value-for-money.
As part of the proposed deal, the UK is also expected to see substantial inward investment from Rheinmetall, one of Artec’s parent companies, who signalled their intention to launch a production and integration centre for armoured vehicles in the UK as part of the programme. This would represent a commitment to long-lasting armoured vehicle capability in the UK.
The other of Artec’s parent companies, Krauss-MaffeiWegmann (KMW), already has a substantial UK manufacturing facility in Stockport, from where it designs, manufactures and supports complex military equipment as far afield as the US and Australia, as well as parts of Europe.