The Lithuanian Armed Forces received the first two Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in an official handover ceremony.
The official transfer of these vehicles comes after German manufacturer ARTEC delivered the two IFVs last month.
Lithuania signed a €385.6 million contract with ARTEC and the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) in 2016 to build and deliver a total of 88 IFV Vilkas.
Vilkas is the designation for Boxer vehicles in Lithuania. The vehicles are expected to fill a capability gap in the Lithuanian Land Force.
The vehicles will be used in service by units of the Iron Wolf Mechanized Infantry Brigade – Mechanized Infantry Battalion of Grand Duke Algirdas of Lithuania and Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan’s Battalion.
Lithuanian National Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said: “This is one of the most ambitious modernization projects of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in recent years. It will help ensure Lithuania’s security for decades to come.
“Such a significant qualitative leap that strengthens our capabilities with modern armament adapted to our needs demonstrates the responsibility with which we assume the security situation, the adequacy of our response and our defense preparation.”
Lithuanian Chief of Defense Lt. Gen. Jonas Vytautas Žukas said the Vilkas will prove to be a significant improvement over existing M133 armored personnel carriers.
“This is one of the most ambitious modernization projects of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in recent years.”
In addition to transporting soldiers, Vilkas vehicles will be able to engage in battle by neutralizing armored and unarmored targets at a distance of up to 4 km, Žukas observed.
ARTEC customized the IFVs to meet the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The vehicles are equipped with Israeli-made remote weapon station turrets, US-made MK-44S 30mm cannons and Israeli Spike LR anti-tank missiles.
In addition, IFVs feature other integrated specialized equipment and electronic systems.
The German company is expected to complete delivery of all Vilkas vehicles by the end of 2021.