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Army set to axe £5.5billion Ajax 'light tank' - which could not be fired on the move or go faster than 20mph
By MARK NICOL DEFENCE EDITOR FOR THE DAILY MAIL
- In tests, the Ajax could not be fired on the move or go faster than 20mph
- It also caused crews to suffer acute hearing loss, nausea and spinal injuries
- The Ministry of Defence has already spent £4billion on Ajax
- Defence minister Jeremy Quin told admitted it may be cancelled
PUBLISHED: 17:53 EDT, 20 July 2021 | UPDATED: 17:56 EDT, 20 July 2021
The Army is set to scrap a £5.5billion 'light tank' before it has entered service.
In tests, the Ajax armoured vehicle could not be fired on the move or go faster than 20mph. It also caused crews to suffer acute hearing loss, nausea and spinal injuries.
The Ministry of Defence has already spent £4billion on Ajax but only 26 of the 589 ordered in 2014 have been delivered.
Yesterday defence minister Jeremy Quin told MPs an independent expert is being sought to evaluate the project and admitted it may be cancelled.
Major General Timothy Hodgetts told the defence select committee the Army was now looking at alternatives.
Cancellation could spark a legal battle between the MoD and makers General Dynamics (UK) over compensation. ...
The British Army’s Greek Tragedy Jack Watling
22 July 20219
The British Army has spent £3.2 billion on its Ajax family of vehicles, but as major problems beset the programme and its role in the force remains poorly defined, the Army faces a stark choice between doubling down or moving on.
Speaking at RUSI’s Land Warfare Conference on 2 June, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin stated that the British Army’s Ajax vehicles were ‘bringing a step change in versatility and agility’ and that while ‘there are issues that need to be addressed, they are being addressed, in partnership with industry’. The Ministry of Defence was adamant that Initial Operating Capability would be declared at the end of the month.
Within weeks all trials on the vehicle had been halted after crews reported injuries due to excessive noise and vibration. The programme is now in crisis, with ministers briefing that they had not been informed about the problems by senior officers and Mr Quin telling the House of Commons Defence Committee that ‘we cannot be 100% certain that’ the salvation of the programme ‘can be achieved’. The two fundamental questions are whether the vehicle can be fixed, and whether it is worth saving. With the Army in the midst of working out how it will fight following the Integrated Review, the consequences of the decision to proceed with or cancel Ajax will be far-reaching.
Can Ajax be Saved?The two greatest problems afflicting Ajax are noise and vibration. Ajax has long been recognised as a noisy vehicle. However, tests on the sound produced by the vehicle demonstrated that it was within useable limits. Subsequent investigation following loss of hearing by crews trialling the platforms has concluded that the issue arises from the integration of the Bowman headsets for the crew radios, which were picking up engine noise, amplifying it as the vehicle accelerated, and putting the sound directly into the crews’ ears. This raises serious questions about how tests on British Army vehicles are carried out, but is also fundamentally resolvable through the procurement of new headsets.
The vibration issues are more problematic. In testing it has been reported that excessive vibration is preventing the main armament from stabilising on the move, damaging the electronic systems that make Ajax a step-change in capability and leading to a high rate of component failure, with the idler and rear road wheels sheering off with concerning regularity. Crews meanwhile have suffered from symptoms that could indicate a risk of prolonged use of the platform leading to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome. These problems must be overcome before the vehicle can be viable as a fighting platform.
Senior personnel within General Dynamics Land Systems UK (GDLUK), the prime manufacturer of Ajax, as well as British Army personnel responsible for trialling the vehicles, noted that GDLUK has had significant difficulties with quality control in the fabrication of the vehicle hulls. The company has so far produced 270 hulls from an overall contract to deliver 598 vehicles. Quality control is understood to be especially poor throughout the first 100 hulls manufactured in Spain, but the issue has not been entirely eliminated in subsequent batches. Problems have included sections being inconsistent lengths, the sides of the hull not being parallel, and substandard welding. Fittings and furnishings have not had their attachment points drilled using jigs, resulting in the spacing of holes being uneven. GDLUK has expended significant efforts in trying to repair hulls that have been manufactured to an unsatisfactory quality. .....
The Ajax saga continues: The British Army’s Greek Tragedy
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