The Slovenian government intends to cancel a planned order for 45 Boxer armored 8×8 wheeled vehicles following the findings of an internal audit commissioned by Defense Minister Marjan Sarec. The audit started back in June shortly after the new left-wing coalition government of Prime Minister Robert Golob came to power.
The internal audit revealed that the original agreement did not include all the ancillary equipment and spare parts necessary. Therefore, claims Sarec, another 24 Boxers would need to be purchased in order to ensure sufficient capabilities for a medium battle group.
Another issue the audit reached a conclusion on was the near-immediate focus on the Boxer as the preferred platform to the exclusion of other, cheaper solutions.
#Slovenia to terminate €281 million contract, set to originally purchase 45 #Boxer APCs as a DoD ordered audit found the contractual price didn't include all costs and there hadn't been adequate price comparison/explicit info on if vehicles were tested in real-life conditions pic.twitter.com/tn0CyXX1nd
— elisabethgmalo (@elisabethmalom1) September 16, 2022
Slovenia is committed to standing up two battle groups – the first by 2027, the second by 2030 – under its 2020 Defense White Paper.
That plan envisions equipping two new mechanized infantry battle groups with 8×8 combat vehicles under the BKV project. The BKV project involves the procurement of the downselected Boxer armored vehicle as the basis for the new mechanized infantry battle groups. The vehicle type was selected in February 2018 through the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) Boxer program involving Germany, Lithuania, and the Netherlands.
The Slovenian Boxers were set to mirror those ordered by Lithuania, which are equipped with Rafael Samson Mk II remote weapon stations (RWSs). The delivery schedule outlined involved handover of the first vehicle to Slovenia in 2023, followed by nine units in 2024, 22 in 2025, and 13 in 2026.
The entire order was being accelerated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched back on February 24. However, it was held up for a review by the Slovenian constitutional court of the refusal by the National Assembly to subject the pending procurement to a referendum. The court ultimately ruled on April 26, 2022, that the National Assembly had acted within accordance of the law by rejecting the holding of a referendum.
But two days earlier, the former government of Janez Jansa was defeated in the parliamentary election, and although the official EUR343 million ($343 million) contract was signed with OCCAR by former Defense Minister Matej Tonin on May 11, the incoming government opted to review the program once it was sworn in on June 1.
Withdrawal costs from the contract are expected to run as high as EUR60 million. Slovenia will now need to reboot the process, which, according to the Defense Ministry, should result in an 8×8 wheeled armored capability solution to help equip a medium battalion battle group and a medium combat reconnaissance battalion.
The goal is to reach a conclusion on the best solution by the end of the year, which may involve a scaled-back acquisition of armored vehicles from the larger goal of 136 units, or a cheaper alternative such as the Polish Rosomak, which is based on the Finnish Patria Armored Modular Vehicle (AMV), already in service with the Slovenian Army (referred to in service as the SKOV Svarun).