Boxer: wheels + tracks modularity = modularity²

Paolo Valpolini

With numerous modules already available, ranging from the RCH 155 artillery one to the MEDEVAC, passing by recovery, command post, infantry fighting vehicle, armoured personnel carriers and other, all developed to be installed on the Boxer 8×8, a native modular vehicle, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany, part of KNDS, decided to enter the infantry fighting vehicles world with an innovative concept that has been designed with the same modularity in mind. Therefore what has been named Boxer tracked is able to fully exploit the already existing modules, as well as a new one unveiled at Eurosatory 2022, as well as the chassis.

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Let’s start form the carrier. The chassis has six roadwheels, with the engine at the front left and the driver at its right. Propulsion is provided by an MTU 881 CR (common rail) turbodiesel engine giving up to 880 kW (1,180 hp) that considering the maximum GVW of 45 tonnes makes a power-to-weight ratio of over 26 hp/t. The engine is coupled to a Renk HSWL 256 fully digital controlled transmission with six forward and six backward gears, a derivative of the Puma tracked IF transmission. KMW experts underlined that the chassis is ready for accepting a hybrid propulsion system. The customer has the option to go for steel or rubber tracks. Beside the driver, the chassis also hosts the commander, this depending of course on the mission module installed.

In terms of performances, the Boxer tracked can reach a road speed of 70 km/h, climb a 60% gradient, move on a 30% slope, cross a 2.5 meters wide trench, and climb a 0.8 meters step. It has a ground clearance of 0.45 meters and can ford a 1.8 meters water obstacle.

The chassis has a weight of around 28 tonnes, which leaves 17 tonnes for the payload, allowing to carry modules heavier than those designed for the Boxer, and obviously all those of the Boxer, mechanical and electric interfaces being exactly the same. To install a module, the upper sides of the Boxer tracked swing laterally: as the width of the chassis is higher than that of the Boxer, these side panels can be exploited to host storage boxes or to add further protection elements.

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At Eurosatory 2022 the Boxer tracked is exhibited with a brand new module, fitted with an innovative unmanned turret armed with a 120 mm L/44 gun. The module hosts at the front the commander and gunner, six dismounts being seated three per side facing inward in the rear compartment. This is possible as the gun does not intrude into the vehicle, usually big calibre guns do it to allow for elevation. In all turrets the gun rotates around one trunnion: in the new KMW turret the gun rotates in two points this allowing reaching up to 20° elevation, however senior official told EDR On-Line that an elevation close to 30° could be reached in the future. In the parking position the two struts carrying the rotating elements are raised, differential rising being what allows elevating the gun without intruding in the hull. As the gun barrel rotates around the mid of its length, the momentum of inertia should be relatively low, which helps in terms of stabilization. Being an unmanned turret, it is fitted with an automatic loader; the version seen at Eurosatory has two rows of ammunition, for a total of 15 rounds, the current configuration having a width of 2,500 mm. However a third row can be added, rising slightly the turret roof, obviously increasing the number of rounds. KMW has designed a solution for reloading the turret from inside, however this was not yet implemented on the prototype seen in Paris. The firepower is complemented by two antitank missiles, hosted one each in the sides of the turret; these fully disappear inside the turret structure, two louvres opening to allow the missile to swing into firing position. A remotely controlled weapon station is also installed: KMW adopted a solution that exploits the commander’s periscope as sighting system, the RCWS having also a counter-UAS role. To this end the turret is fitted with a passive sensor that triggers the radars of the Trophy active protection system that equip the turret, which are capable not only to track incoming direct-fire projectiles or missiles, but also drones. The 120 mm turret module has a weight of around 14 tonnes, the turret representing some 8-9 tonnes.

With the unveiling of its Boxer tracked KMW enters the fray of the infantry fighting vehicles market, bringing a great flexibility in terms of modularity, the vehicle being inherently a family of vehicles. Such a solution might be of interest for those Boxer users that need to replace their ageing tracked vehicles fleet, as well as for new customers that have an interest in exploiting the reduced logistic footprint of a modular solution.

Photos courtesy Paolo Valpolini