BERLIN — Plans to provide the German Army 131 more Boxer armored personnel carriers have passed the German Bundestag. On Wednesday, the parliament's budget committee of the parliament approved the procurement of the APCs, a Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed.

The wheeled fighting vehicles carry a price tag of €654 million (US $709 million), including 19 percent VAT, parliamentary sources confirmed. While around €566 million will be spent on the vehicles, about €47 million is earmarked for weapon stations. European armaments agency OCCAR will implement the project. The vehicles in the configuration A2, which come with better protection than previous batches, are due for delivery from 2017 to 2021.

Last week, Lithuania announced its intention to order 88 Boxers in infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) versions with a 30 mm cannon and anti-tank missiles. The State Defence Council selected the vehicle for the 8X8 requirement on Dec. 11. Those deliveries are set for  is scheduled for the period from 2017 through 2020.

"The production capacities in Germany and the Netherlands for Boxer vehicles can easily cope with the second batch for Germany and the vehicles for Lithuania," said Stefan Lischka, managing director of Boxer manufacturer Artec, a joint venture between Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. He even sees an increase in efficiency when production exceeds 30 units per year.

Concerning the Boxer, Lt. Gen. Jörg Vollmer, the inspector general of the German land forces, assumes that it is in "mutual interest" for the Bundeswehr and the Lithuanian armed forces to cooperate. He considers the repair of battle damage and common operational procedures as possible areas of collaboration, he told Defense News Wednesday before a parliamentary hearing in Berlin.

Lithuania has already established military links to Germany. Its MoD announced plans a few months ago to buy 22 German self-propelled howitzers and about 30 more vehicles from German surplus stocks.

The German Army's new Boxers will be configured as APCs with a light weapon station that can hold either a machine gun or an automatic grenade launcher. The vehicles will replace the wheeled APCs Fuchs (Fox) of the Army's infantry battalions and are tailored to fit in with the advanced Future Soldier project (IdZ-ES) used by infantry squads.

The German Army now has 200 Boxers, which have already been used to some extent in Afghanistan. The delivery of more 72 ambulance vehicles to the Medical Corps is ongoing. All buy three of these all have been delivered, said Artec Manager Stefan Lischka. With the handover of the remaining three in the first quarter of 2016, the delivery will be finished nine months ahead of schedule.

The Boxer is one very few new German weapon systems, the buyer receives in a timely manner. In addition to the Bundeswehr, the Dutch armed forces employ the Boxer, of which 200 specimen were ordered to Dutch specifications.

German forces not only want to upgrade their infantry units but also want to improve their tank fleet. Army Inspector Vollmer announced that in the future, two out of six German tank battalions – each with 44 vehicles – are to be equipped with the most modern Leopard 2 A7 main battle tank (MBT). The other units will keep Leopard A6s, he said. The Army already uses 20 of the latest version of the MBT.

Earlier this year the German MoD announced intentions to buy back 100 secondhand Leopard 2 from industry to increase the Army's total stock to 328. According to sources familiar with the subject, most of these tanks will be upgraded to the level A7, while the remaining ones can be used as platforms for engineering vehicles and the like. However, it is unclear when the upgrading process will start.

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