Iron Fists APS for the Australian Boxers

Australia was the first country outside NATO to select the Boxer RCT30 infantry fighting vehicle for the Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle role. Photo: CPL Nunu Campos, Australian defence

The Australian Defence Force has asked Rheinmetall Defence to evaluate Israel’s Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS) developed by Elbit Systems’ IMI. Brigadier Greg McGlone, Australian Army Director General, Armored Fighting Vehicles, broke the news at the International Armoured vehicles 2019 conference (#IAVevent) in London today. According to Brig. McGlone the evaluation will include only the Iron Fist as it was the only mature APS that meets the Boxer’s weight requirement (38.5-ton combat weight).

Following the current assessment, Australia plans to contract Rheinmetall to integrate Iron Fist on the Lance turrets being used on the 121 of the Block II (improved reconnaissance vehicles) Australia is buying under the Land 400 Phase 2 program.

The Australian army plans to conduct live fire testing of the system as part of the Block II improvements of the Australian Boxers. Australia will locally assemble 197 Boxers in this Block II phase, the vehicles include 121 combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV), 10 recovery vehicles, 15 command vehicles, 29 joint fires surveillance vehicles and 11 repair APCs. The Australians also have options to buy 11 Boxer ambulances, all under the Block II tranch. The first 25 CRVs and engineer vehicles will be delivered by 2020 from Germany under Block I.

IF-LC is also included in the AJAX based tracked vehicle General Dynamics Land Systems UK (GDLS-UK) propose to the Australian Land 400 Phase 3, intended to replace the M113s in the future. A model of that vehicle was also unveiled by GDLS at the #IAVevent. Photo: Defense-Update
The AJAX proposed for Land 400 Phase III uses a manned GDLS turret that mounts an ATK 30mm cannon and a missile launcher. In addition to the two IF-LC active protection units the turret also uses dual, multi-sensor EO targeting system (note the protected, rotating commander sight) and the acoustic sensor behind it. Photo: Defense-Update

The Australian Army studied using APS during the evaluation of Land 400 Phase 2 but did not require such capability from the competitors. Rheinmetall proposed the Boxer with its own ADS system. The Australians requested Rheinmetall, the Boxer manufacturer, to evaluate the scope of integration of the Iron Fist – Light, Decoupled (IF-LD) APS – the same system selected by the US Army to protect the Bradley Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV). The study could also consider the compact variant of Iron-Fist (IF-LC) which was selected to protect the Dutch CV-9035NL AIFVs.

IF-LC was proposed for two of the platforms that were not selected by the Australians – AMV-35 and Terrex III. It is now part of the AJAX-based tracked vehicle offered by General Dynamics Land Systems UK (GDLS-UK) to the Australian Land 400 Phase 3. A model of that vehicle was also unveiled by GDLS at the #IAVevent. This vehicle is intended to replace the M113s in the future. One of the competitors in the program is KF31 from Rheinmetall.

Boxer Block II procurement will also include 64 vehicles configured in four non-turreted variants, as this command and control vehicle displayed at the Australian Land Forces 2018 exhibition. Photo: Nunu Campos, Australian defence.