The German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) introduced a tracked version of the multi-purpose wheeled armoured platform Boxer 8 × 8 and a new module with a 120mm L / 44 cannon at Eurosatory 2022. The tracked Boxer has the same modularity as the wheeled Boxer as it can use all modules developed for the wheeled version. The tracked Boxer is a technology demonstrator. It is, therefore, a demonstration of the development and production potential of KMW, not a final prototype designed for a specific customer.
KMW manufactures tanks and wheeled armoured vehicles, but the medium-tracked vehicle is simply missing from its portfolio. Even Puma IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) is a product of PSM (Project System Management), a joint venture between KMW and rival Rheinmetall. KMW, with the tracked Boxer, actually competes with the Rheinmetall Lynx. The tracked Boxer will attract the attention of users of wheeled Boxers.
Although KMW calls its new machine the “Tracked Boxer,” the chassis section has no components in common with the wheeled Boxer. But the concept is the same. Both wheeled and crawler Boxers have a special storage tray on the body, into which special modules are inserted. These modules can be moved freely between the track and wheel versions – all mechanical and electrical interfaces are the same. However, it is, of course, necessary to observe the different load capacities of the wheel and crawler chassis.
The tracked Boxer has a wider chassis. There are (or there may be in the future, depending upon requirements) tilting side panels on the sides of the body. When inserting the module, the panels list to the sides. The panels can be used to transport additional material or additional armour (composite, reactive).
In total, there are already more than 20 different modules. The belt or wheeled Boxer can be used to create an armoured personnel carrier, self-propelled howitzer 155 mm (RCH155), evacuation vehicle (MEDEVAC), command post, infantry fighting vehicle or tank destroyer with a 105 mm cannon (Boxer MGS). With the new module with a 120 mm calibre tank cannon, Boxer has all the potential to compete with Lynx.
The tracked carrier of the modules has six travel wheels. The engine is located on the left front, with the driver to the right. There is also a place for the vehicle commander in the chassis part (outside the module). The carrier weighs 28 tons, so the module can weigh up to 17 tons. The crawler Boxer, therefore, manages to transport heavier modules than the wheeled version.
The drive is provided by a turbodiesel engine MTU 881 CR with an output of 880 kW (1180 hp). With a maximum machine weight of 45 tons, the power-to-weight ratio is 19.6 kW per tonne. The top speed is 100 kilometres per hour, and the mileage is 500 kilometres.
The engine is mated to a fully digitally controlled Renk HSWL 256 transmission with six forward and six reverse gears derived from the BVP Puma transmission. The power pack can be removed from the vehicle in a few minutes using a crane. The crawler Boxer is also ready to install a hybrid diesel-electric drive. The conveyor belts can be steel or rubber (composite).
The crawler Boxer handles 60% incline, moves longitudinally on 30% of the slope, overcomes a 2.5-meter wide ditch and overcomes a 0.8-meter high vertical obstacle. It has a ground clearance of 0.45 meters and overcomes a 1.8-meter deep ford.
At Eurosatory, the Boxer was equipped with a new RCT120 module weighing 14 tons. The tower itself, with a 120 mm cannon, weighs eight to nine tons.
The module contains space for commanders, shooters and six troops. It is, therefore, probably the first tracked vehicle that carries a 120mm cannon and troops.
The cannon tower is remotely controlled and does not interfere with the landing area. The attachment and recoil of the cannon are designed to allow elevation of the barrel from -10 ° to + 20 °. Reportedly up to + 30 ° in the future.
The tower has an autoloader for 15 rounds of 120 mm calibre. The number of rounds in the autoloader can be increased at the cost of larger tower dimensions. KMW says it is preparing a solution for refilling ammunition from inside the vehicle. In addition to the cannon, one can also place a coaxial cannon with a calibre of 30 mm.
The tower can be supplemented with a pair of anti-tank missiles like Spike LR and a remote-controlled module with a 12.7 mm machine gun – it also works as a means of air defense. The vehicle also has Trophy Active Protection System (APS). The remote-controlled module can use data from Trophy radars. These radars can monitor not only incoming projectiles or missiles but also drones.
The combination of 120 mm gun, troops, 30 mm cannon and APS makes a weird combination, but KMW may be displaying its technical prowess. The tracked Boxer is simply an example of the potential of KMW. And if a customer orders a vehicle, they will get whatever equipment and systems they want.
But the tracked Boxer can help unravel the plight of the British Army’s Ajax combat program. The Ajax program has been running for 12 years, has cost £ 3 billion so far, and the first vehicle was due to be delivered in 2017. But Ajax has problems with strong vibrations and noise, which damages soldiers’ hearing.
At the same time, the United Kingdom is buying 500 Boxers (the total demand is up to 1,500 vehicles), and the tracked version may at least partially fill the gap in the British military’s capabilities created by the five-year delay of the Ajax program.