The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that “all testing and training on Ajax vehicles remains paused” adding “we will not accept a vehicle that is not fit for purpose”.
Additionally, the statement below states “it is not possible to determine a realistic timescale for the introduction of Ajax vehicles into operational service”.
The following is an excerpt of statement from Jeremy Quin, the Minister for Defence Procurement.
“I wish to provide a further update to Parliament on the Ajax equipment project being delivered as part of the Armoured Cavalry Programme. Extensive work has been undertaken on the Health and Safety aspects of the Noise and Vibration concerns raised on Ajax. The Report is being undertaken independently of the Ajax Delivery Team by the MOD’s Director of Health and Safety.
Initially 121 personnel were identified as requiring urgent hearing assessments as a result of recent noise exposure on Ajax. Subsequently, the MOD broadened the scope of those who should be tested to all those who had been exposed to noise on Ajax. To date, a further 189 individuals have been identified that should be offered an assessment, giving a total number of 310 personnel.
At present all dynamic testing and training on MOD’s Ajax vehicles remains paused.
I have made clear that no declaration of Initial Operating Capability will be made until solutions have been determined for the long-term resolution of the noise and vibration concerns. Work continues on both with General Dynamics heavily committed to delivering a safe resolution. Over the summer, work has been conducted to examine design modifications to reduce the impact of vibration. A design modification to reduce the risk of noise through the communication system is in development and is currently being tested. These may represent part of the overall solution but considerable work needs to be undertaken before any such assurances can be given. Until a suitable suite of design modifications has been identified, tested and demonstrated, it is not possible to determine a realistic timescale for the introduction of Ajax vehicles into operational service with the Army. We will not accept a vehicle that is not fit for purpose.”
John Healey, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, said in response:
“It is three months to the day since this House last questioned the Minister on Ajax and since then things have gone from bad to worse: the Public Accounts Committee pursuing a critical inquiry; the National Audit Office agreeing to my request and that of the Defence Committee for an urgent investigation; the Government’s own Major Projects Authority again flagging Ajax red and saying that successful delivery “appears to be unachievable”. This is a programme that has cost £3.5 billion to date, delivered just 14 vehicles and is set to be completed a decade late. The Minister’s statement now puts Ajax on an end-of-life watch. He confirms that the vibration problems were well know before the Ajax trial started in 2019. Indeed, he said today there was an Army safety notice in place on that vehicle in 2018. How much did the Defence Secretary know about the flaws in Ajax when he published the Defence Command Paper in March backing Ajax, scrapping Warrior and scaling back Challenger?
The Minister now says that he has realised that what is required for Ajax is what he calls a full-time dedicated senior responsible owner. So for over a decade this Ajax programme, the most costly defence procurement, second only to the deterrent, has had nobody senior responsible who has taken full-time charge. No wonder Ajax is the biggest procurement failure since the Nimrod, and this has happened entirely on this Government’s watch. Ministers are failing British forces and failing British taxpayers.”
We recently reported that the Ministry of Defence have confirmed that “there may be a requirement for Warrior to be used in some reconnaissance roles” until the troubled Ajax armoured vehicle is brought into service.
In the below piece, analyst Robert Clark takes an in-depth look at the latest ongoing saga regarding the British Army’s plagued Ajax armoured vehicle.