VILNIUS – The Lithuanian Armed Forces’ Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) will be ready for use without restrictions following the installation of technical and software upgrades by German and Israeli manufacturers, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday.
The ministry found out in summer that the armored fighting vehicles delivered to Lithuania could not be used for their intended purpose due to certain defects related to software.
Technical and software upgrades were installed during additional testing of Vilkas IFVs at the General Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area in Pabrade, according to the ministry’s press release.
Improvements made to weapon systems would allow using the infantry fighting vehicles without restrictions both in training and in combat environment, the press release quoted Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas as saying.
“Upgrades are now being installed in the infantry fighting vehicles delivered to Lithuania and this process will be finalized in November. The delivery of new Vilkas IFVs to the Lithuanian Armed Forces will also be resumed in early October,” he said.
According to the ministry, on August 29, progress with the implementation of the project was assessed in Bonn, Germany, at the headquarters of the Organization for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR), which hosted talks between the Defense Ministry and the manufacturers of infantry vehicles for the Lithuanian army, i.e. Kraus Mafei Wegmann and Rheinamtall of Germany, and Rafael and IAI of Israel.
Anusauskas said that manufacturers had allocated additional resources for both identifying and correcting defects. Also, the German manufacturers had committed to extend a warranty period for the vehicles that had already been delivered, he added.
Around half of 88 IFVs ordered have already been delivered to Lithuania but they have certain defects related to software, due to which the delivery of remaining military equipment has been postponed repeatedly in recent years.
When placing a production contract for these modified Boxer IFVs, Lithuania expected them to be delivered by the end of 2021 but now politicians mention the deadline of the spring of 2023.
Deputy Defense Minister Vilius Semeska said in late July that “the platform itself has proved to be successful and of very high quality” while most challenges stemmed from the “Israeli-made turret”.
“I’d prefer not to disclose any details, but it involves software improvements, among other things,” he then said.
Despite delays in the delivery of IFVs ordered several years ago, Lithuania launched talks on the purchase of additional approximately 120 Boxer Infantry Fighting Vehicles in April.
Vilkas IFVs are the most expensive acquisition in the history of Lithuania's army, costing over 385 million euros.