During Senate Estimates on April 6, Chief of the Army Rick Burr outlined some performance features of the initial Block 1 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles being acquired via LAND 400 Phase 2. He indicated during testimony that the vehicles will not be able to fire turret mounted anti-tank guided missiles. These are to be Spike missiles from Rafael – and Army has been funding the redesign of the Block II turret for their inclusion.
Lieutenant General Burr said: “It will not have an organic anti-armour weapon – they will be carried by the troops inside to engage those sorts of threats.”
Earlier, Major General Jason Blain also told the Senate that the 12 Block I Reconnaissance vehicle variants will not be fitted with this capability – however, the Boxer Block II Reconnaissance vehicle variants will be capable of firing turret mounted anti-tank guided missiles. Defence says that the Boxer Block I capability was procured to fill a capability gap that emerged when the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle was assessed as no longer suitable to deploy into medium and high threat environments without additional risk.
The turret, developed by Rheinmetall with the marketing name of Lance, carries a 30mm cannon and heavy machine gun, as well as a variety of sensors and defensive aids such as smoke grenades. In previous Estimates hearings, the Army has said that they have been paying the company for the integration of 2 Spike ATGMs onto each of them – but have refused to say how much has been paid arguing, strangely, that it is all within the project budget.
The ability to carry ATGMs is an important part of the project requirement so that the vehicles could protect themselves if they had the misfortunate to come across an enemy Main Battle Tank. For soldiers inside Block 1 Boxers to have to climb out of the vehicle and defend it with their own shoulder launched missiles or set up a Spike launching platform would seem to be a major drawback in critical, time sensitive situations. However, only a relatively small number of vehicles are in this situation.
Another surprise was the revelation that Boxers will not be equipped with an Active Protection System (APS) – though the future tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles being acquired via LAND 400 Phase 3 will be. Originally the Boxers were to be equipped with the Iron Fist system from Elbit, but Army say that the mission profile for the vehicles means that will no longer required. This would make them vulnerable to the type of drone attacks that have devastated Russian forces in Ukraine. Army say they are continuing to evaluate alternate solutions and might retrofit them at a future date.
(PHOTO: Soldiers from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) conduct a live-fire training serial with an Australian Army Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle at Townsville Field Training Area, Queensland. Credit: CoA/Nicole Dorrett)