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)

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Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


  1. At what point does CAS-G realise that they have again been duped by RM and there flash marketing to get a sale. How long have they known that they were in trouble with trying to get an integrated missile system into the Boxer turret?

  2. One can assume this plus the election may play a role in the delayed announcements on land 400 lynx v redback decision.

  3. Lunacy!
    Integrated Tows missiles saved a reconnaissance unit against tanks in the battle of 33 wasting during the gulf war.
    If they have to dismount they are dead along with a destroyed Boxer!
    I can’t understand why it is so hard to intergrate such a system on a vehicle which is so large. If the missile is so large use a smaller one. Spike is a family of missile in a number of different sizes.
    I’m saying all that the US Army has mounted stinger, a 20mm cannon and hellfire missiles as well as radar on the Same LAV 3 based vehicle which again is a lot smaller than Boxer.

  4. Sorry I’ve lost complete confidence in our Defence. Have they not been watching, the Ukraine war!
    Plus we have Destroyers which are too small and poorly armed (at present no arms) Patrol Boats that are too slow
    Subs which is fine but around 2040 and Frigates that are big but have problems..oooh!!!

    • The AWDs are not poorly armed. They have the same missiles as US ships.
      Where our ships are lacking is the long range anti-ship department though that is being addressed with the acquisition of NSM for the AWDs and FFGs.
      It is pretty clear that the Navy intends to up-gun the OPVs as per their reasoning for cancelling the originally intended armament of one 40mm cannon.
      Both the future subs and future frigates will likely have their programs streamlined bringing the delivery dates forwards from current estimates.
      In regards to the issues currently being seen in the future frigates it is important to remember that the stage of development they are currently in is supposed to identify issues with the design and address those issues with solutions. So if anything it is a relief that we are identifying these issues now rather than after the ships are being put to water.

      • I think the notion that the AWDs and Hunters are poorly armed relates to the number of VLS cells they have rather than the missiles they are firing. Current generation Arleigh Burke’s have 96 VLS cells; AWDs have 48 and in the future the Hunters will only have 32. If you can expand on your comment that the dates for the delivery of submarines and frigates will be brought forward I would like to see some evidence of that – my impression is that both projects are going in the opposite direction. I have seen some comments from Peter Dutton about speeding up the process for submarines but until the RAN can decide which one the want it’s hard to see that happening. The fastest way to acquire a nuclear powered submarine would be a French designed Barracuda, which would also allow Australia to recoup some of the $5.5 billion spent to date on the cancelled Attack class.

        • Exactly the point and the Chinese I believe have even more Cells than the US!
          Talking to someone who was very involved in the Hunter Class Frigates, his evaluation was that BAE design was not accurate in that it had some many hundreds of tons not included in the design and that BAE actually did not want the contract but directed by their Government and our navy wanted to increase its tonnage too so we have a very heavy ship at least in the first group to be constructed.
          His evaluated too was that ‘the balance ‘ between all our navy ship types is askew , Arafura class draft and size to big. Hunter class too small for what needs to be put in and onto it (he suggested the ships would be much bigger at the final 3 produced). He suggested a smaller OPV heavily armed. Our destroyers seriously under armed, wrong selection.
          Finally when the Brits and the US meet about the future nuclear subs the yanks particularly were NOT ‘warm and fuzzy’. Seems that they we irritated that we had NO infrastructure. I did notice recently the government had addressed that.

          • I’m not sure of a smaller OPV because of range and seakeeping issues. They certainly need to be far better equipped – the parent ships for Brunei have a highly capable 57mm gun and 4 x canister launched Exocet missiles. Getting read out on the nuclear powered submarines is not easy but we can conclude a couple of things: a) the reactors for Astute are now out of production, which seems to rule them out; b) while there is a lot of political support for AUKUS, that has not necessarily flowed through to the USN naval reactor specialists who jealously guard their own technology.

  5. We haven’t seen an APS on the Boxer turret yet either. The Lynx turrets had mock-ups but the Boxer had mock-up missile launchers on it for the Phase 2 trial so I guess that’s no guarantee.

    The EOS T2000 has both and, I believe, both have been demonstrated. Is anyone else seeing a nice Australian made solution to this?

  6. How could Boxer possibly get chosen only to find out after the fact that it can’t carry missiles.

    Surely now Redback is a certain bet with all its capabilities and under armor missile carry/launch as standard

  7. Apparently its only the first batch built in Germany that don’t have the ATGW, Defence has confirmed in Estimates that the Australian built ones will.

    • I watched all of Estimates closely and didn’t hear anyone from Army say that, but being generous I alluded to the possibility. However none of them will have active protection systems, which also came as a big surprise.

      • Perhaps read the transcript rather than going for the clickbait headline.

        This is what was said:

        Major Gen. Blain: We will have ATGMs, those missile systems, on our Block II fleet. It was never the case we’d have them on our Block I vehicles

  8. Let’s hope they do get it fixed at least for the Aussie built batch. Otherwise we might find ourselves as the proud owners of another expensive platform that is not the most suited for deployment into high intensity conflict zones. We’ve got a good history of owning a lot of platforms that aren’t really deployable on anything more than basic peace keeping ops…

    • A further issue regarding possible deployment is that as I understand the Boxer 30mm cannon can only fire steel cased ammunition which basically has to be specially manufactured. The far more common Bushmaster 30mm cannons can use U.S. aluminium cased ammunition which is available fairly much everywhere. This means that if the Boxer is deployed outside of Australia, the Army is going to have to lug along all of their own ammunition.

    • That’s a very broad question. Defence clearly have a number of large problems on the acquisition side. I’m still getting my head around the cancellation cost of the Attack class of $5.5 billion. That’s an enormous amount of money to spend with absolutely nothing to show for it – though I’m sure all of the Defence people located in Cherbourg for the last 4 years had a truly wonderful time. As readers know, I’m also not a fan of the early and unnecessary retirements of the Tiger and Taipan helicopters and spending another $10 billion (and counting) replacing them, or Friday’s shock information delivered via a bureaucrat that AIR 7003 has been cancelled for spurious reasons.

  9. I think this was sloppy reporting. If you follow this closely you would understand that the tranche 1 Boxers built in Germany were NEVER slated to have Spike integrated. The journalist needs to do rudimentary fact checking. This was portrayed at a program failure which it is not. its part of the plans.

    • When you say that it was never intended for Spike to be fitted to the initial batch of vehicles, where does it say that? I have had great difficulty extracting any useful information about this contract from either Defence or Rheinmetall. What turret was tested during the RMA?

  10. Dont worry kids, this will be defences excuse to cancel another platform and save money they were’nt going to spend in the anyway. Its all about perception, looking like we are doing something is cheaper than doing it. Besides we are all used to all the lies this government spoon feeds us. right. Sovereign builds indeed what bull dust.


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