Boxer IFVs produced for Lithuania undergo testing in Germany
According to Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense, the manufacturer of Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), ARTEC, is putting two prototypes of IFVS bought by Lithuania, to intense testing at the German military training areas. Both prototypes have been made according to requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, have Israeli-made turrets, 30 mm rapid-fire cannons and Spike LR anti-tank missiles.
"The IFV project is one of the key elements of modernization and strengthening of the Lithuanian Armed Forces," Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Raimundas Karoblis says.
In his words, the Vilkas have been adjusted to the needs of our armed forces and mark a qualitative leap in the modernization of our forces in providing it with modern equipment and weaponry that brings it to NATO standards.
According to the Ministry of National Defense, the key task of the prototypes is to assist the manufacturer in identifying the weaknesses in Vilkas IFVs to remove technical deficiencies before mass manufacturing begins thus ensuring high quality and work of all systems.
"We call these two IFVs prototypes because these are the first two produced according to the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ requirements with integrated turrets and at this phase are meant for assessment of integration and functioning of all systems," Lithuanian Major Nerijus Sivickas, head of the project, said.
In his words, in comparison to the operator training vehicles obtained last year, these prototypes are significantly more complex, include more and different equipment that turns an armored personnel carrier into a combat vehicle
Once the testing is completed, technical condition of both prototypes will be reset to the manufacturer’s parameters and the IFVs will be returned to the Lithuanian Armed Forces. First Vilkas IFVs are expected to be brought to Lithuania in early 2019.
Also, Lithuania sent a letter of intent earlier in July to join the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) Boxer program for supplying and maintaining the vehicles to ensure a proper logistical provision to the IFVs procured by the Lithuania Armed Forces. Participation in the program would allow access to common central and spare parts storages, service capabilities for major systems, engineer and technical support, etc., over the IFVs operation period.
The 88 IFVs bought for 386 million euros to the Lithuanian Armed Forces on the basis of the contract signed on 22 August 2016 will be equipped with rapid-fire cannons and anti-armor missiles. The IFVs will be given to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Battalion and the Lithuanian Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf.