UK SME Blue Bear has put a 20-drone swarm through its paces.
Boxer IFV variant with RT60 turret emerges
A fully functional prototype was on display at UK armoured vehicle manufacturer WFEL’s Stockport facility in July for viewing by officials from the British Army and UK MoD.
WFEL is a subsidiary of the German armaments conglomerate KMW, which is a partner in the ARTEC consortium that manufacturers Boxer. The RT60 turret can be fitted with either the XM813 or Mk44 Bushmaster 30mm cannon; this is the first time an RT variant turret has been integrated with the Boxer vehicle.
Nick Drummond, UK advisor to KMW, told Shephard that a Middle Eastern customer paid for the development of the system. Although the customer had not initially requested the RT60 turret, ‘they do want it on Boxer now', he added.
Shephard Defence Insight notes the customer could be Qatar.
Drummond explained that the customer’s brief to Kongsberg was that they wanted an MCT-30 turret that could in future take a 50mm cannon, Active Protection System (APS) and twin anti-tank missiles. Kongsberg provided the RT60 to meet these requirements.
According to Andrew Walker, business development manager for land systems at Kongsberg, the final integration is taking place and shooting trials with the new vehicle and turret combination are expected by the end of the year.
Production could begin by late 2022, pending customer approval.
The RT60 turret is derived from the existing RT40 turret (formerly named MCT-30) that equips US Army Stryker 8x8 armoured vehicles. The turret on Stryker employs the XM813 30mm cannon, but the new RT60 can support the installation of an XM913 50mm cannon in the future.
Walker explained that the modular Kongsberg Protector series of turrets includes the RT20, RT40 and RT60. All these are based on the baseline technology in the RT40. This means that it is mature and ready for production for the wider market as a heavier Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) turret that can host additional sensors and weapons whilst preserving commonality of the human-machine interface, controls and software for the operator.
‘[The turret] has completed its ammunition trials with all the ammunition variants. Both the Boxer and the turret are mature; we are just integrating them,’ Drummond said. Walker added that the turret just requires some additional software updates to take account of additional weapons systems that the customer may want.
The new RT60 turret can support additional sensors, a remote weapon station, twin anti-tank guided munitions and other accessories if required (Kongsberg)
Prototype development continues and KMW is working out which Boxer rear compartment mission module would best support the RT60 turret. KMW has already developed mission modules for Boxer to support the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) turret and the Rafael Samson turret fitted to the Vilkas variant Boxer vehicles for Lithuania.
The new prototype uses the Lithuanian mission module to support the RT60 turret, but Drummond said the next step is to develop a special mission module for RT60 based on the Puma module.
‘The difference is it will have hatches for the commander mounted forward, which is important for situational awareness… it is about the positioning of the hatch the centre of gravity of the turret on the vehicle,’ he explained.
In creating the RT60, the architecture of the RT40 was changed to take additional armour for improved protection. The RT40 was also enlarged to support the new 50x228mm XM913 gun that is to be launched later this year for the US Army’s new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV). The turret is being put forward as a contender for the OMFV competition to host the cannon.
The RT40 turret architecture has been mature for four or five years, so it was easy to adapt it into the RT60 model and provide enough space to install twin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). This is not possible on the existing MCT-30 turret fitted to Stryker.
The inside of the Boxer vehicle with the RT60 turret integrated on the roof. There is minimal penetration into the hull of the platform, which retains most of its useable space. (Photo: Kongsberg)
KMW brought Boxer with the RT60 turret to the UK in order to present an alternative armoured vehicle to the cancelled Warrior IFV. Although the UK is not in a position to embark on a replacement vehicle for Warrior, Drummond said it is looking at upgrading the lethality of Boxer — but whether that will include a turret at this stage is not clear.
Drummond said that the Boxer is also an option should the British Army decide not to proceed with the troubled Ajax armoured reconnaissance vehicle programme. The British Army is already receiving the standard armoured personnel carrier (APC) variant of Boxer under its Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme.
‘We can offer that turret on Boxer and you’d have an immediate reconnaissance vehicle with all the same systems that Ajax is going to have, no problem, and we can deliver that very easily,’ Drummond said. ‘You’d probably have a better system because there is more room in Boxer than there is in Ajax for all the electronics they want.’
Drummond said the vehicle could theoretically be built and integrated in the UK if the Middle Eastern customer takes production forward. Hence the British Army could place additional orders to acquire the vehicle without extra development costs, using a fully mature turret at a much lower total cost to provide a capability rivalling Ajax.
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