Lithuania is expecting to receive the second batch of 23 Vilkas 8×8 wheeled armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) this summer, as part of the ongoing modernization of its land forces. The Vilkas is a variant of the Boxer 8×8 vehicle, customized for the Lithuanian Armed Forces with an Israeli-made turret and anti-tank missiles.
The Vilkas project is one of the largest and most expensive defence acquisitions in Lithuania’s history. The country signed a contract with the German consortium ARTEC GmbH in 2016 for the purchase of 88 Boxer 8×8 vehicles, worth around 386 million Euros. The first batch of 22 vehicles was delivered in 2021, and the final batch is expected to be delivered by 2024.
The Vilkas is designed to provide enhanced mobility, protection and firepower for Lithuanian troops in various combat scenarios. The vehicle is equipped with a Samson Mk2 unmanned turret module manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which features a 30 mm Bushmaster II Mk44S automatic cannon, a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and four Spike LR anti-tank guided missiles. The turret also has advanced sensors, optics and electronic systems for target acquisition and engagement.
The Vilkas has a crew of three (driver, commander and gunner) and can carry eight infantrymen in the rear compartment. The vehicle is powered by an MTU model 8V199 TE20 diesel engine that generates 530 kW and is coupled to an Allison model HD4070 fully automatic transmission with seven forward and three reverse gears. The vehicle can reach a top speed of 105 km/h and has a maximum cruising range of 1,000 km.
The Vilkas is intended to replace the obsolete M113 tracked armoured personnel carriers that have been in service with the Lithuanian Armed Forces since the early 1990s. The Vilkas will be deployed with two motorized infantry battalions from the Iron Wolf motorized infantry brigade, which is part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup in Lithuania.
The Vilkas project is seen as a significant boost for Lithuania’s defence capabilities and its contribution to NATO’s collective security. The vehicle will also enhance the interoperability and compatibility of Lithuanian forces with other NATO allies, especially Germany, which operates a similar version of the Boxer vehicle.