With so many upcoming programs, its easy to sometimes forget those major decisions that have already been taken, or at least flying under the radar. This can be said about the acquisition of the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle under Project LAND 400 Phase 2. Since the contract between the Commonwealth and Rheinmetall for 211 vehicles and 223 mission modules was signed in August 2018, the program has been proceeding though not without some hiccups, mostly due to cost pressures.
The acquisition cost for the Boxers was put at $5.2 billion, and the new CRVs will replace the ASLAVs (Australian Light Armoured Vehicle) in the Army’s order of battle, and are more heavily armed, armoured and fitted with more advanced sensors compared to their predecessors, which have been in service for more than two decades. Of the 211 vehicles, 133 will be the turreted Direct-Fire, High Survivability Lift (DFHSL) variant, with the rest being the MultiPurpose Vehicle (MPV) variant without the turret. It was originally planned for 180 of the 211 vehicles to be DFHSL variants, although that was scaled back due to costs. The Boxers will be operated by all three Armoured Calvary Regiments within each of the Army’s Combat Brigades, as well as at the School of Armour at Puckapunyal and the Army Logistic Training Centre at Bandiana.
The new vehicles will fill seven different roles on the battlefield in part using the swappable mission modules. These include reconnaissance, command and control, joint fires, surveillance, ambulance, battlefield repair and recovery, and are fitted with modern sensors and communications equipment, their role is to locate, monitor and engage with enemy forces and provide security to Australian forces. Australian industry content of the project is one of the key drivers of LAND 400, and through the tender process was increased to over 50 per cent. Australian industry will contribute significantly towards future sustainment of the vehicles, with three-quarters of the work expected to go to local companies.