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RBSL and WFEL give Upbeat Briefs on Boxer and Challenger 2 LEP By Julian Nettlefold





On September 30th, RBSL in association with NDI gave a Virtual Supply Chain Webinar updating industry on the Boxer MIV and Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP).

WFEL also sent out details of their involvement in the Boxer Programme.

The RBSL members of the Panel include Peter Hardisty, CEO, Rory Breen, Sales Director and Jon Borthwick Head of Procurement of RBSL. In addition, Andrew Kinniburgh, CEO of NDI was on the Panel.

Peter Hardisty opened the brief by stating that the Boxer order had been signed last year for a total of 528 vehicles, including the prototypes across KMW/RLS and driver training vehicles; the first Design Review is ongoing. The works share between RBSL and WFEL is roughly 50:50.









RBSL Boxer variants will be the Command Post and Specialist Carrier variants. WFEL, part of KMW (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann), in Stockport, will supply the Infantry Carrier (IC),  Specialist Carrier (SCO)  and Ambulance (AMB) variants. Delivery of these vehicles to the British Army will be made between 2023 and 2030. RFQs will be issued before production commences. Peter Hardisty said he was confident that Boxer would pass intact in the forthcoming Defence Review given its vital role for the UK’s Strike Brigades as well as Challenger 2 LEP.

The UK supply chain will be responsible for the comms suite, ECM, GVA and other equipment.

Rory Breen said that he expects that RBSL will increase its workforce over the years to accommodate the increased Boxer production and support.

Jon Borthwick gave an overview of opportunities for industry to participate in the MIV and Challenger 2 LEP programmes.

Jon Borthwick said that the 29 acre Telford plant is having a major facelift and redevelopment to transition the facility from a support facility to a major manufacturing hub with 30 tonne crane capacity, paint shops, machining, fabrication, warehousing and welding facilities. The new layout will house MIV and Challenger production lines.

Telford Facility Capabilities:

*29 acre estate

*1.2 miles from Babcock DSG

*Secure 27,000m2 covered working area to High Security standards

*Offices to co-locate c.350 people

*5,000m2 warehousing facility

*Dedicated bid centre with integrated workshop

*Cranage to 30 tonnes over the seven workshop bays

*Testing facilities including1.6 km vehicle test track and Bridge Test Facility

*Systems Integration Lab including:

EMC chamber, 3D Visualisation Dome, Laboratories,

Other facilities include:

Workshop Machining and fabrication, Vehicle paint booth, Heavy automotive assembly repairs, Training Systems, Reference vehicles

He then outlined details of opportunities for both Programmes.


MIV Contract Structure


OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation) is an

international organisation, whose core-business is through

life management of cooperative defence equipment programmes.

MoD has instructed OCCAR to act as their procurement agent for the MIV programme.


ARTEC is the prime contractor. ARTEC was formed in 1999 and is a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall.

Tier 1 Contractors



Tier 2 Contractors



MIV Procurement Structure

*Joint procurement team of RBSL, WFEL, Rheinmetall and KMW

*Competitive sourcing

* Sourcing and purchasing activities

*Major considerations in assessing the supply chain:

*Technical capability including Quality


*UK content

*Financial capacity

*Minimise ITAR and EAR


Boxer is an operationally proven Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV), in-service with the German and Dutch forces, on order for the Lithuanian and Australian forces. It has a unique design of a common Drive Module, interchangeable Mission Modules, provides flexibility and an easy path for upgrade and growth, with exceptional levels of protection and on-road and cross-country mobility – providing a safe and agile platform to support battlefield operations.

The Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle programme aims to source 60% by value of the vehicle content from UK suppliers and these 8 x 8 wheeled vehicles will be supplied in several different configurations, including an armoured personnel carrier, field ambulance, command vehicle and specialist carrier.  Delivery of the vehicles is expected to start from 2023 and this order marks the return of the UK to a European Defence Programme, having taken part in the Boxer project while in its infancy. Boxer is now on its way to becoming one of NATO’s standard vehicles.

UK Defence Minister James Heappey said regarding WFEL’s involvement in the Boxer Programme, “Investing in the Boxer programme is a prime example of Defence doing more than ever to level-up the UK economy through employment.  By developing our relationship with WFEL, we are also supporting high-skilled jobs across the UK supply chain.  This partnership ensures we engage with our people from the very beginning, connecting talented apprentices with the valuable roles Defence has to offer.”


*Top speed of 64 mph.

*Operational range of 1000+ km.

*Weight up to 38.5 tonnes.

*Currently manufactured in Netherlands, Germany and Australia.

Long-lead items will be procured by RBSL’s Telford works in 2022/3.

The In Service Date (ISD) for Boxer is 2023.

RBSL and WFEL will share 50% of the full rate production and source as many UK components as possible under a joint procurement structure. Manufacturers will be expected to assemble, integrate, test and support their products in the UK.

Under the recently signed £2.3bn contract between UK MoD and ARTEC – the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall consortium – a significant portion of the manufacture of the 500 Boxer Armoured Vehicles for the Army’s Strike Brigades will take place at KMW’s UK subsidiary, WFEL, creating a substantial number of jobs for both WFEL and its UK-wide supply chain.

As part of the preparations for this significant contract, WFEL has re-energised its Apprenticeship Scheme, with the first of its new Apprentice recruits recently joining the company to follow the path of Advanced Apprenticeships in Engineering Manufacture and keen to be involved in this 10-year contract.

As well as the on-going commitment to new Apprenticeships, WFEL is also actively recruiting for a substantial number of new roles to be based at its Stockport site, whilst engaging with both existing and new suppliers in anticipation of its contribution to both the North West economy and the Northern Powerhouse.

With over a century of engineering expertise and innovation and an established world leader in rapidly-deployable military bridging, having supplied 43 armed forces around the globe for over four decades, WFEL offers concept design, prototype manufacture and full-scale production of a range of military-grade engineering solutions across the complete spectrum of the defence sector, including vehicle integration and aviation products. WFEL is a world leader in specialist welding techniques, particularly for aluminum given its extensive capability in building bridges.





Ian Anderton, Managing Director of WFEL, said, “Our substantial involvement in the Boxer programme allows us to further develop our UK supply chain, in turn creating and protecting valuable UK engineering jobs and developing new skills for our staff and those of our supply chain partners.  Working in close partnership with our KMW colleagues, we are both delighted and proud to be part of this transformational project for the British Army, with whom we have worked for many years.”

A long-established Prime Contractor to both the UK Ministry of Defence and U.S. Department of Defense, WFEL operates a global sales network through overseas representatives and works directly with international governments and Non-Governmental Organisations.

RBSL will be responsible for electronics including sub-assemblies, power supplies, switches, GVA, welding and sheet metal fabrication under a competitive sourcing process to avoid delays and disruption.

Financial stability and ITAR will form part of the approval process.

The majority of parts will be common for both the RBSL and WFEL vehicles to avoid duplication.

RFQs will be issued as soon as possible and continue over a 12- 18 month timeframe.










Assessment Phases 1 and 2 were undertaken in 2017-2020. The design now incorporates a new fabricated steel turret and the L55A1 smoothbore 120mm gun (common to most NATO armies). The hull remains with upgrades to components which will be supplied by Babcock DSG to RBSL.

*Assessment Phase runs from 2017 – 2020.

*Contract Award – End of 2020.

*Demonstration Phase planned start 2021.

*Extends Out of Service Date to 2040.

*All upgrade work to be undertaken at RBSL in Telford.

*RBSL is the Design Authority. Detailed designs are being completed to include UK content.

* RBSL is responsible for Post Design Services (PDS), In-Service Support, Warehouse and Logistics, Supply Chain Management, Project Management and Interface to other programmes.

C2 LEP has been split into different strands to ease the funding through the Treasury. The systems and sensors piece is valued at approx. £715m. The Heavy Armour Automotive Improvement Programme (HAAIP),  which is not part of CRT LEP, worth about £600m, will provide improvements for the heavy armour fleet including Challenger 2, Challenger Armoured Recovery Vehicle, Titan and Trojan. The HAAIP will deliver a common engine and suspension across all variants which will substantially enhance reliability. 

Supply chain for remaining equipment

RBSL will seek to maximise UK content in the remaining components/equipment yet to be developed for the CR2 LEP programme. RBSL will work with suppliers at all Tiers of the supply chain, both directly and through Tier 1 and 2 suppliers. Supplier selection will be competitive to deliver to schedule, quality and value for money.

Timing Programme:

Demonstration Phase quantities are limited to prototypes and delivery for a small

quantity of pre-series vehicles for testing and trialling. Manufacturing Phase quantities and deliveries will reflect the series-production schedule.


*Armoured material plate preparation, forming and processing

*Machined components

*Machined steel components

*Machined components aluminium

*Welded components and sheet metal

*Sheet metal processing of steel/aluminium

*Welded steel / aluminium assemblies ISO


*Welded armoured steel assemblies German DIN 2303 Standard

*Cast products in steel & aluminium

*Sand castings

*Investment casting

*Chill casting

*Mechanical sub-assemblies

*Plastics & rubber components

*Plastic parts according to drawing

*PU foam parts

*Injection moulding

*Pipes (to drawing) made of plastic / rubber

*Rubber / metal anti-vibration

*Seals & gaskets


*Internal components polymer lay up process


*Fasteners (DIN & standard)

*Steel pipes (to drawing)


*Paint booth

*Upgrade and additional paint booth facilities, paint

guns + robots

*Grit blast

*Additional grit blast facilities


*Upgrades, re-deployment and additional – both fixed and mobile

*Mechanical handling

*Forklifts, scissor lifts


*Assembly staging, production tooling, test equipment

*Production consumables

*Abrasives, adhesives, bodyshop, protection, sealants, tapes, tools etc.

*Small capacity machining

*Quality inspection – equipment upgrade

*CMM, testing equipment

*Production process

*Part tracking

*Consignment stock, line-side replenishment and support, on-site vending

*Waste reduction

*Waste management services

*Industrial, recycling and secure disposal

*Air conditioning

*Perm and temporary AC

*Uniforms + PPE

*Customised uniforms + PPE for manufacturing



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