On July 9, the first two of 88 Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) produced for the Lithuanian Armed Forces by a German manufacturer were officially handed over to Lithuania, after being informally handed over on June 25 to the Grand Lithuanian Duke Algirdas Mechanized Infantry. Iron Wolf Mechanized Infantry Brigade Battalion based in Rukla to carry out acceptance procedures.
Official handover of the first two Vilkas IF to the Lithuanian Army (Image source: Lithuanian Ministry of Defence)
“This is one of the most ambitious modernization projects of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in recent years, it will help to ensure the security of Lithuania for several decades to come,” said National Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis during the official handover ceremony. The Minister underlined that “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”.
“However, today it is probably even more important and relevant to send a message to Lithuanian society as well: we have already paid too much for freedom and independence to allow ourselves to be stopped by the cost of the project. Vilkas. A secure and strong Lithuania needs strong Armed Forces, and this requires a fundamental update,” stressed Minister R. Karoblis.
Head of Defense of Lithuania Lt.Gen. Jonas Vytautas Žukas underlined that “the message that we care about the security of our country and that we are ready to push back in the short term will now be much more convincing. The M133 armored personnel carriers we use can only bring troops to the battlefield and provide fire support. In comparison, VCI Vilkas will not only transport soldiers quickly and safely, but also engage in battle by effectively neutralizing armored and unarmored targets at a distance of up to 4 kilometers,” said Lt. Gen. JV Žukas .
The Vilkas IFV is a variant of the Boxer armored fighting vehicle developed by the German manufacturer Artec according to the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The vehicles are equipped with Israeli-made turrets, MK-44S 30mm guns and LR tip anti-tank missiles, other specialized equipment and electronic systems.
Artec GmbH is a consortium formed by the Germans Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV), and the Dutch Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland BV Overall. Rheinmetall holds a 64% stake in the joint venture. The Boxer program is managed by the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), a European intergovernmental organization. Lithuania, along with the Netherlands and Germany, is part of the NATO Support and Supply Agency (NSPA) Boxer IFV Supply and Maintenance Program. It ensures proper logistics provision of infantry fighting vehicles with the ability to use spare parts and common central depots for IFVs and repair capabilities for major systems, receive technical and engineering support , etc., when IFVs are operated by the Lithuanian Army. forces. In order to keep the connection with the history of Lithuania and the traditions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, it was agreed by the IFV manufacturer and Lithuania that IFVs produced according to Lithuania’s requirements would be called “Vilkas” instead of “Boxer”.
According to the 385.6 million euro contract signed in 2016 by IFV manufacturer Artec and the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), the 88 IFV Vilkas purchased by Lithuania will be delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces by the end of 2021. Serial production of combat vehicles the vehicles of the Lithuanian Armed Forces have started after a year of intensive testing in training areas and test centers in Germany and the Netherlands. IFV Vilkas will be used by units of the Iron Wolf Mechanized Infantry Brigade – Grand Duke Algirdas of Lithuania’s Mechanized Infantry Battalion and Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan’s Battalion.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces has also been using two Boxer DTVs without the weapon systems specifically for military driver training since 2017. The initial in-service logistics support package includes spare parts, support and test equipment, documentation technical and training and training materials. has received.