Fuchs Bows Out

The Dutch Army will soon replace its Fuchs-1A1/2 Eloka EW vehicles, an example of which is seen here, with new electronic warfare platforms based on the Boxer wheeled armoured fighting vehicle.

The Koninklijke Landmacht (Dutch Army) is to acquire new Electronic Warfare (EW) vehicles, the country’s defence ministry has announced.

The plans revealed in late April call for the army’s Daimler-Benz Fuch-1A1/2 Eloka Electronic Warfare (EW) platforms to be replaced with a new system housed on the ARTEC Boxer wheeled armoured fighting vehicle. The Dutch Army has taken delivery of 200 Boxer examples.

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The new EW vehicles will be destined for the army’s 102nd EW Company. This forms part of the force’s Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance command. The 102nd EW Company supports the army’s 13th Light Brigade and 43rd Mechanised Brigade manoeuvre units. As Armada detailed in a previous report the Eloka vehicles entered Dutch Army service in 1991.

The 102nd EW Company has two platoons. Each has four Fuchs-1A1 vehicles. These collect Communications Intelligence (COMINT). Two Fuchs-1A2 platforms perform electronic attack. Precise specifications on both systems remain undisclosed. It is reasonable to assume that the Fuchs-1A1 detects and locates Very/Ultra High Frequency (V/UHF – 30 megahertz/MHz to three gigahertz) emitters. The Fuchs-1A2 vehicles are thought to perform electronic attack on V/UHF wavebands. These latter platforms may have a jamming range of circa 17 kilometres/km (eleven miles) against ground-based targets.

Joint Electronic Attack

The Eloka replacement is known as the Joint Electronic Attack project. It is worth between $108 million and $270 million according to reports. These continued that the EW-configured Boxers will be delivered between 2027 and 2028. According to Armada’s figures, a Boxer’s unit cost is circa $20 million. Our figures also note that the average price of a vehicle-mounted combined electronic support measure and electronic countermeasure is circa $4 million. This would give an approximate unit price of around $24 million per EW-configured Boxer.

Given projected budgets for the acquisition, this would allow the procurement of between four and twelve vehicles, equating to between two and six per EW platoon. In 2020 the Dutch Army acquired twelve Thales Bushmaster EW vehicles. Therefore, the future strength of the EW platoons could be six Bushmasters apiece, and between two and six Boxers.

The Bushmasters are thought capable of detecting and locating High Frequency (HF: three megahertz to 30MHz) emitters. This is alongside V/UHF targets. Moreover, they appear to possess a set of antennas to counter drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These antennas are probably used to locate the aircraft and jam the radio frequency links connecting a UAV to its ground control station. UAVs use 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies for these links. Both the counter-drone/UAV system, and the vehicle’s HF and V/UHF antennas are mounted on extendable masts. The detection and jamming range of the Bushmasters maybe similar to the Fuchs-1A2 against ground-based emitters. The Dutch MOD has said that the new Boxer-based vehicles will perform EW at the operational level and be capable of performing cyberattack.

Bilateral Benefits

The Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation, responsible for procurement, will collaborate with its German equivalent on the EW Boxer acquisition. Armada has identified a future Heer (German Army) requirement to replace its Fuchs-1 Eloka EW vehicles in the coming five years. The force is thought to operate 87 Elokas in various configurations spread across its 911th and 931st EW Battalions.

The German Army has received over 400 Boxer variants which would be ideal platforms to replace the Fuchs-1 EW vehicles used by the Heer. Harmonising the Dutch and German Eloka replacement would make sense. Both countries already operate similar EW systems by virtue of using Eloka platforms. Both would benefit from economies of scale by performing a bilateral procurement of EW-configured Boxers.

The two armies share a manoeuvre unit in the form of the 1st German/Netherlands Corps, itself part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO’s) Response Force. Having the two armies use similar EW platforms to support their land forces would help deepen interoperability writ large.

The UK is also receiving new Boxer-mounted EW systems. Therefore, might any bilateral EW Boxer procurement eventually become trilateral programme including British participation? This could help further deepen NATO land forces EW interoperability and help foster financial reductions for all concerned.

by Dr. Thomas Withington