Tests of the British Army’s new Ajax AFV were halted due to safety concerns and some other major problems.
The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed the suspension of testing of its new fleet of 3.47 billion pounds ($4.92 billion) Ajax armored fighting vehicles “as a precautionary measure”. After the The Daily Telegraph reported on many problems with this type of vehicle, according to which, the reasons related to the design, speed, and safety of the vehicle; Excessive vibrations caused speed restrictions and crews were limited to 90 minutes inside the AFV at a time.
It is reported that experimental versions of the army AFV cannot go faster than 20 mph (32 km/h), which is half the vehicle’s expected speed, and cannot overcome obstacles. 8 inches (20 cm) tall or more. Soldiers also suffered from the loud noises caused by these new vehicles. The report is expected to be published next month.
Armed with a 40 mm cannon and a light machine gun, the Ajax AFV was lighter and more maneuverable than the aging British other AFV. However, the main gun can’t even fire during when the AFV moves because the vehicle is too shaken which make this vehicle “useless”, especially when performing reconnaissance and deep-dive missions.
Project Ajax is an important component of the Army’s restructuring program, forming a modernized combat division of the British Army.
According to an MoD UK spokesman, stopping testing is a normal measure for the demonstration phase of projects. “The health and safety of our service members is of paramount importance and we are committed to creating a safe work environment”; “An investigation, combining tests with the manufacturer, is underway.” However, the British Ministry of Defense, along with the manufacturer the US aerospace and defense company General Dynamics is investigating the problems with the AFVs.
The ministry said training on Ajax vehicles had also continued “with appropriate safety measures in place”. “We are committed to the Ajax program, which will form a key component of the Army’s modernized combat division, with current plans for initial operational capabilities slated for in the summer of 2021”.
The Ajax was seen as the ideal vehicle to replace the obsolete, 1970s Scimitar light AFVs, which are now used by armored reconnaissance units. The Ajax armored fighting vehicle made such a strong impression on then Prime Minister David Cameron that the Cameron government ordered a total of 589 units in 2014, in 6 variants, of which 245 were of the Ajax variant. turret – for the Army. However, the program is now four years behind schedule.
The Ajax is based on an older vehicle built by General Dynamics for the Spanish and Austrian armed forces, but it has been extensively redesigned to suit the requirements of the British Army with its engine and transmission, new digital system, and for some versions automatic transmission and 40 mm caliber cannon.
The first 100 were completed in Spain to ensure delivery to the British Army in 2017, the remaining 489 were assembled and tested in the new factory in Wales. The first vehicle was expected to be completed at the Merthyr Tydfil facility in 2018, and the first units to be delivered were in mid-2019 and were ready to deployed by 2020.
When the production facility went into full operation in 2017, there were 250 people employed in the plant in Merthyr Tydfil. In addition to 250 jobs here, 300 employees at Oakdale have been involved in the development of Ajax; The £4.5 billion program supports around 2,800 jobs in more than 210 UK-based companies, 550 of which are in Wales.
However, the future of Ajax became very uncertain even before the latest problems were exposed. In March of this year, a British Parliamentary committee vehemently criticized the government for neglecting traditional British forces and focusing only on developing this “bad” armored vehicle. The committee’s report strongly criticized the costs and delays associated with the Ajax program.
Notably, Ajax is not the first program to be criticized due to the poor management of the British Ministry of Defense. When the Department replaced the FN FAL rifle model with the Enfield SA80 model in the late 1980s, many problems also arose. The gun was clogged, the metal parts were rusted and deformed, and was unusable in the desert environment – the situation get worse when British soldiers were involved in the Gulf War.
Most recently, the British Ministry of Defense was criticized for spending so much money developing two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers that it could no longer afford the aircraft and corvettes needed to deploy the strike group. within a year, and also not enough money to modify these 2 aircraft carriers to perform the ability to land amphibious vehicles – which is one of the strong points of the ship. In addition, the US-made F-35 fighters used by these two carriers also suffered from delays, design flaws, and costs.
Despite the fact that in 2020, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a sharp increase in defense spending, aiming to “focus on technologies that will revolutionize warfare,” including major investment in artificial intelligence (AI). ) and established the Royal Air Force Space Command RAF, launching rockets from Scotland in 2022, the future of the Ajax AFV project is still very “dark”.