WARSAW, Poland — The Slovenian Ministry of Defence has announced the country’s government will cancel a deal to purchase 45 Boxer armored vehicles with related equipment and services for a total of €343.4 million ($343 million) from the intergovernmental Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).
Ljubljana instead intends to seek other options to acquire eight-wheel-drive vehicles for its land forces, according to officials.
“By the end of the year, the ministry will prepare a solution to develop the capabilities of a medium battalion battle group and a medium combat reconnaissance battalion,” the ministry said in a statement.
The latest decision is based on the findings of an internal audit commissioned by Defense Minister Marjan Šarec last June after a new government took over power in Ljubljana.
“There is a trend to buy off-the-shelf vehicles, when you buy a vehicle, you put it on the road and drive it. You don’t buy a vehicle and have to buy this and that,” the minister told local broadcaster RTV Slovenija.
Šarec was referring to the Boxer’s selected specification which did not include all of the equipment required by the ministry in the vehicle’s tag price, according to the internal audit’s findings.
If Slovenia were to proceed with the purchase of 45 Boxers, the ministry would be forced to buy at least 24 more armored vehicles to ensure sufficient capacities for a medium battalion battle group, the defense minister said.
Slovenia’s 2020 defense white paper states that, under the country’s commitments to NATO, the first battalion battle group is to be established by 2027, and the second one by 2030.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s decision has been criticized by Matej Tonin, Šarec’s predecessor and currently an opposition lawmaker. Tonin tweeted on Sept. 18 “the Slovenian military has confirmed all the tactical-technical characteristics and configurations of the vehicle” selected by the previous Cabinet.
Similarly to a number of Eastern European allies, Slovenia accelerated its efforts to purchase new armored vehicles for its military following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which began on Feb. 24.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.