The turret for the British Army’s AJAX vehicle has successfully completed initial manned live firing trials.

The milestone took place last month at a trial in west Wales. The formal qualification trials are testing the vehicle’s CTAI 40mm (CT40) cannon and the 7.62mm chain gun.

The initial phase has tested firing from a static vehicle on a static target. The trials will continue over the coming months, progressing to fire on the move, and at a moving target say Lockheed Martin UK.

The manned firing will generate data to support the process of manned crew clearance – assessing the safety and suitability of the platform for use by military personnel.

Lee Fellows, programme director for AJAX at Lockheed Martin UK, said:

This is a huge milestone for us and for the AJAX programme.

Leading up to this event we’ve worked closely with our prime contractor General Dynamics Land Systems–UK to complete unmanned firings and provide the assurance and confidence that we are ready to move onto the next phase.

The AJAX firings have been successful and we’re confident they will continue to be so as we progress through the trial. It’s another step towards getting this world-class capability to the British Army.”

The AJAX turret has been developed and produced at Lockheed Martin UK’s facility in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

The AJAX turret shares commonality with the upgraded turret developed by Lockheed Martin UK for the Ministry of Defence’s Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme. Lockheed Martin UK is the prime contractor for the WCSP programme, which is currently in its development phase.

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Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Pity half of them will be in 2 “Medium Armour” Regiments acting like Tanks, when in fact our new “Strike Brigades” are just Mechanized brigades under a new name and without real Tanks.

Another way of packaging cuts as an improvement.

Lets hope politicians don’t think as such and send our “light tanks” into danger against a peer enemy.

Still, a long overdue replacement for the ancient CVRT vehicles.

pete
Guest

A vehicle like the cockerill cse 90 would be better in the CVRT role, its replacement should be air portable like CVRT. if used in a tank role the 90 mm cockerill or a 105 mm gun is required not a 40 mm. How did we end up with AJAX a warrior sized vehicle to replace CVRT and why was it not designed with V shaped bottom to deflect blasts? Now doubt the Army will wish to keep CVRT as well?

andy
Guest
andy

i remember when we used to out run challenger mk1 in our warriors,tactics had to have a major overhall until challenger 2 came out,i just hope the same does not happen when ajax comes into service

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Well Ajax is tracked and the infantry battalions it will be supporting will be equipped with a wheeled MIV. So how does the Ajax keep up when these brigades are supposed to be covering vast distances, often by road?

Ajax should be in our armoured Brigades and the firepower for the strike brigades coming from a wheeled vehicle.

Instead they are combining the two.

Meanwhile our armoured Brigades are stripped of their component armoured recc elements.

It’s not ideal.

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

Daniele.
I’m not so “with it” regarding the army but isn’t Ajax just replacing Scimitar in the armoured brigades. With all the changes on changes that seems to be taking place I’m really not up to speed on how the fighting front line is to configured.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Geoff. I am “with it” as far as the infrastructure and the organisation of the armed forces is concerned. A hobby of mine, if you like. The above is correct. Will try to explain as best I can! The army 2020 plan was going with 5 deployable brigades – 3 Armoured ( Reaction Force ) and 2 Infantry ( Adaptable Force ) 16AA and Cdo are seperate from this. The army was operating in the “1 in 5” rule. Each of these 5 Brigades has supporting “enablers” making the brigade deployable. A Royal Artillery Regiment. A RE Regiment. A REME… Read more »

Ben P
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Ben P

Not gaining an additional brigade, 1x armoured and 1x infantry brigade are been re-rolled in to 2x strike brigades.

The strike brigade structure looks right, have not heard about the armoured brigade structure change, would love to know where you heard that.

To my understanding the armoured brigades would remain the same with the armoured reece regiments vehicles been replaced by ajax.

1 Armoured Regiment.
1 Armoured Recc Regiment (AJAX)
2 Warrior Battalions.
1 HPM Battalion ( Mastiff )

Mike Pratt
Guest
Mike Pratt

So what is really happening is we are cutting one AI brigade, taking ill matched bits out of the other two and calling it a strike brigade and then replicating this strike brigade. When you takes the theoretical war fighting division of the two AI brigades plus one strike you just get back to two AI brigades of old….!

Mike Pratt
Guest
Mike Pratt

With limited resources I suggest the right approach to retain 2 fully resourced AI brigades, Ajax, Ch2, 2 x Warrior and 1xMIV. Then have one fully wheeled strike brigade on MIV more like a US Stryker brigade for independent ops. Develop the concept before we add a second such brigade (when hopefully we have more money). Add paras, and 2 or 3 protected mobility brigades and that’s the fighting army for now. Ajax may have to restructured in terms of variants

John Hampson
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John Hampson

The Ajax program is surely among the most pitifull example of the demise of UK defence manufacturing capabilities. After years of ineptitude and the waste of millions of £’s, the policy of death by a thousand cuts was continued. Rather than ensure the work was performed at Newcastle, we now have an American/Austrian design, built in Spain, using Swedish steel and German engines , turret and gun. Befor anybody says this is wrong, the 1st 100 vechicles will be manufactured completely in Spain. The remaining 489 units will I acknowledge will be assembled in Wales but the hulls and engine… Read more »

Stephen G.
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Stephen G.

All part of the deliberate and organized war against British heavy industry which has been waged for decades, and is still being waged to this day.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Oh look – its another article about some new equipment being tested and all the armchair Generals are out shouting ‘cuts’, this is wrong and that is wrong. Beats me why we need defence experts and experienced army staff in the MoD when anyone here knows so much better. Come on people its a new piece of kit and investment buying from a global supply chain which makes it more cost effective. Better assembled here with new jobs in Wales than the recent purchase of up to 2,747 Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicles valued at $1.035 billion. I am sure… Read more »

Nath
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Nath

Im sorry Chris but you seem to miss the point. All the clever engineering, the development of the intellectual property and the underlying technologies are done overseas. You wonder why the UK is still broke even though we have record employment… This is it. It’s as low down the value chain as we are likely to get. It sustains a few hundred mid, low paid jobs but doesn’t promote high value engineering. Without research and development skills petrify, learning becomes outdated, our ability to design and build our own equipment rots and we become more dependent NOT interdependent on others.… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Nath – I have to totally object to your poorly informed dismissal of British engineering. From new Carriers to Crossrail tunnelling to state of the art technology companies to advanced automotive engineering to advanced aerospace products and so much more we are leading the world and can do so much more. Thousands of new apprentices are now in engineering (in its widest meaning). And far from supporting a few hundred jobs Industry and manufacturing are over 14% of the UK economy and just in September experienced the biggest growth for decades and twice the ONS forecast. Mainly driven by exports.… Read more »

Nath
Guest
Nath

Chris, I am a chartered electrical engineer with 10 years + experience. I know what in talking about. And you’re still not differentiating between the IP creating, value adding work that brings economic growth, improved productivity, prosperity and interesting work versus final assembly. I know full well that manufacturing is twice the size of construction, bigger than finance and enjoyed a great boon last month and having worked for a major defence contractor I know the kind of work going on in there and the talent available. But you are looking through rose tinted glasses, I on the other hand… Read more »

Andrew
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Andrew

Very incisive comment, my fullest of support.

A note on Indian engineers though, as a British scientist; they may be training 100K a year but perhaps <1% of those are of the quality produced by the likes of oxbridge, imperial, Bristol, Edinburgh, ucl etc. They have quantity yes, not quality.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Nath,

You are aware that ARM holdings uk semiconductor equipment is in the iPhone.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Chris

Well said, I’m in total agreement with you.
The self loathing and lack of positivity in this country is sickening.

We manufacture huge amounts of high tech equipment that is world beating, the 787, F35, C130J, Airbus products.

What people fail to see is that a lot of German,American and Japanese “world beater”products have a large amount of UK made content.

Nath, you are an engineer and I respect that, but you aren’t completely right in your thinking either.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Steve – As you just said all these so called foreign wonder companies are actually relying on British ingenuity and technology. I mean who would have thought that the US Navy would prefer a British Gas Turbine power system to GE? And the thing the doom merchants fail to address is if we are so poor at engineering and creative design why, according to the 2017 World Investment Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Kingdom was the second largest recipient of FDI in the world in 2016 after being ranked 12th a year… Read more »

Nath
Guest
Nath

Yes I know arm’s designs are in the iPhone. And I know we are the 6th largest manufacturing exporter in the world. These are good things and you can all see and point to Arm, RR, BAE et al as a examples of British engineering excellence. My argument is not that we can’t do it but that we do not invest in the skills, the projects and research needed to maintain that relative position. The intellectual capital that gave these companies their advantage comes at great cost but it is too easy to sit back and rest on our laurels,… Read more »

Stephen G.
Guest
Stephen G.

They do the same with EVERYTHING. Massive contracts for trains for Britain’s east coast mainline, west coast mainline and now HS2 are all given to foreign companies. They literally cannot wait to do it. This would have been a golden opportunity to set up a British factory with state of the art equipment, and give them the order, and future orders. We will always need trains, what are we going to do, go cap in hand to a foreign company every single time Britain needs trains from now until forever? If it was just 1 field you could turn a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I mentioned cuts Chris because the army is replacing Tanks in one if our remaining 3 armoured regiments with these, then calling them “medium tanks”

If that is not a recipe for disaster I don’t know what is.

Fine vehicle I’m sure as a cvrt replacement. Not as a Challenger 2 replacement.

Ben P
Guest
Ben P

They are not replacing them. They are completely rerolling the brigade from armored to strike. Still crap though.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Yes Ben, it is Crap! Just replied to Geoff further above outlining why the new Strike Brigades are a problem.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Hi Ben P In reply to your comments further above. “Not gaining an additional brigade, 1x armoured and 1x infantry brigade are been re-rolled in to 2x strike brigades” Yes that is what I said. My comment on an additional brigade is reference to the spin of the MoD and secretary Fallon, describing to Parliament the A2020 refine process as a “significant uplift in capability” in replacing 3 Armoured Infantry Brigades with 2 Armoured and 2 Strike. See – https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-12-15/HCWS367/ Further, for anyone interested in what is happening in the army, and the Uk military in general, I recommend Gabriele’s… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Ben. Kings Royal Hussars are replacing Challenger 2 with Ajax.
Armoured Regiments reduced to 2.
That is indeed replacement in my book?

John Hampson
Guest
John Hampson

Chris: In 2014 when David Cameron announced the £3.5 billion Ajax order he called it, “the biggest single contract for armoured fighting vehicles for the British Army since the 1980s”. And once again UK manufacturing was abandoned and reduced to a nuts and bolts assembly line. Since the order for the aircraft carriers was placed in 2007, EVERY major defence program has been placed with foreign firms. For the army, 900 heavy trucks and now another $ 1 billion order for 2700 light troop vehicles from Oshkosh in America. Uniforms and boots from Germany, Croatia, China and Turkey. 32 helicopters… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

John – I think you confuse me with someone else and my comment on ‘armchair Generals’ was aimed at the naysayers who seem to take a delight in rubbishing any piece of new investment and equipment (regardless of source) for our forces. Read my comment again and that part was not about UK sourcing at all. I am probably the biggest proponent of ‘build it here’ you will ever meet. Just look at my comment on the Oskosh up-cock. Indeed I have written quite lengthy responses on this site on, for example, Tide Class tankers and new supply ships and… Read more »

John Hampson
Guest
John Hampson

Chris.
Sorry, I misunderstood your reference to armchair generals. One of the merits of this site is that generally people are trying to make reasoned observations and it is accepted that there are differences of opinion, data gaps and also mistakes.

Stephen G.
Guest
Stephen G.

They have waged an organized and deliberate war against British heavy industry for decades and they are still waging it to this day. We are the ONLY major European country to do this, in every single field too mind you. We have been absolutely humiliated.

End this war against British heavy industry and start investing in it and supporting it like other European countries do, it is in our own best interests.

Billthepayers
Guest
Billthepayers

My first post and probably last. I am closely involved in the Ajax programme. I am a 24 year veteran. I have never read such unmitigated, ill informed, jingoistic rubbish. If you ‘posters’ new how hard people work to provide our armed forces with relevant, up to date, safe equipment you may just pause a moment before spouting off on public forums

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

A thought gentlemen…. it is 11/11/11

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Being an ex soldier I am quite cautious of these new concepts in the way to fight war.

As yet I have not a viable explanation of the strike brigade concept.

What sort of enemy are these brigades expected to fight? If the enemy has heavy armour then the strike brigade will suffer badly if the enemy does not then what is the point of a 40 ton AFV with a 40mm cannon?

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

Likewise Mike. I don’t get it.

Tim
Guest
Tim

I don’t get the concept of a 40t AFV either. FRES is Future Rapid Effects System but being 40t it can’t be air lifted in sufficient numbers and being on tracks it can’t self deploy from say Bahrain to Bagdad on roads. It needs a transporter so a ship carrying them will also have to carry the transporters as well and therefore only half the number of AFV’s. So it’s not very Rapid at all. It has also taken us 20+ years to decide and it’s still not in service yet. At least the Future bit is correct. For a… Read more »

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Discussing future war fighting is always a matter of opinion. I consider the main battle tank as part of an all arms battleground will continue to be the dominant weapon on most battlefields. The threats to that dominance are many, but tactics and technology will in my opinion meet those threats. Heavily armed helicopters are ok provided you have air dominance, but what if the enemy has effective air defences then what? The IDF is introducing APS to all its new AFVs to counter ATGW, I suggest we should do the same. Guided artillery munitions have been talked about for… Read more »

Ben P
Guest
Ben P

The UK is developing a APS system for its armoured vehicles. We are also developing a laser/CIWS.

Tanks used in Yemen were M1A1’s without all the up armour that the M1A2 and Challenger 2 have.

JohnStevens
Guest
JohnStevens

Surely having a good AFV like the Ajax is wise with it’s 40mm cannon.. The way technology is advancing with the types of armoured vehicles a country can now obtain down to the lethal types of weaponry an infantry soldier can carry means you need a vehicle like this one. Always will need to update and have a good mix of vehicles for different types of scenarios.. Totally agree that we need to keep enough Main battle tanks in service.. I wonder how many available tanks the uk will have after the changes have taken place (currently 227) plus 70… Read more »

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

Against modern anti tank weapons a 40 ton AFV without an active protection system is a sitting duck. The Saudis have lost over 20 M1A1 tanks in Yemen to these types of weapons.

Against Russian T90 tanks a 40 ton AFV same result.

You don’t need heavy armour protection, like Ajax has, to defeat RPGs and IEDs.

I envisaged the role of Ajax to be scouting for heavy armour units, Challenger/Warrior, who would do the fighting.

The strike brigade concept seems that Ajax will do the fighting, for me this is flawed.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

That was indeed it’s role Mike until General Carter outlined to the Defence Select Committee how the strike Brigades would each have 2 Regiments on Ajax.

It has been speculated elsewhere that in a 3 brigade divisional deployment the strike brigade itself would act as the divisional recc element.

I think the Strike Brigade was meant to mirror the US Stryker brigades and French ops in Mali covering vast areas at speed, but if Ajax had the main brigade firepower this is flawed.

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

From what I am beginning to understand the Ajax would be better paired with Challenger in a recce. role and we then need a six/eight wheeler with a 25/30/40 mm cannon for the strike brigades. YES?

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

I agree Geoffrey, we need to screen our main combat forces to gather as much intelligence of enemy strength and intentions. Not replace our main combat forces with intelligence gathering ones.

Field commanders can they decide how to deploy and action to take. Intelligence is everything if you intend to defeat the enemy quickly minimising your own losses, but you need adequate forces to defeat the enemy for me strike brigades equipped with Ajax will not be able to do that.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Intel is now the job of drones and satellites. The idea of having a land based recce unit in advance of the MBT is outdated and very dangerous in a period where a unit of fairly lightly armed foot soldiers have the ability to take out recce vehicles. In addition a drone can cover significantly larger areas much faster.

What i hope these are good for is anti-insurgence warfare and providing our infantry units with some heavy ish fire power and protection, when needed.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

If the future of warfare is the UAS, then why is the UK scrapping the desert hawk 3 with no replacement?

The sole UK army UAS asset with be 24 runway dependent watchkeepers.

Steve
Guest
Steve

at a guess we are designing our armed forces around counter insurgency/non- pier threats, since it’s easy to think that there are no serious peer threats currently and if there were they wouldn’t attack because of nukes. I fear this is short term thinking but it is understandable in an era of capability cuts, that you would choose the capabilities to face today’s threats over tomorrows.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

That cannot be the answer as the entire “official” point of the army’s latest reorganisation ( cuts ) is to organise a war fighting Division capable of state on state warfare. That can only mean concern about Russia.

Ben P
Guest
Ben P

Ajax is paired with the challenger 2 and warrior. The AJAX is replacing the current vehicles in the armoured reece regiments within the armoured brigades.

The strike brigades are AJAX and MIV 8×8. At the moment the MIV is going to be only with light weapons. Not 20/30/40m turrets as far as we know at the moment. Wont know for sure until they place an order.

pete
Guest

Ajax is a warrior sized vehicle, its 40 tons will limit what bridges it can cross and small tracks it can use. Don’t understand choice of gun, the Americans spent a lot of money trying to make the 75 mm version work. In the 1996 evaluation they found barrel life was around 200 rounds, they had problems with spent case ejection, high recoil, blow-by and barreling as the round entered the taper obturator. The rounds were more expensive than 105 mm, in its favor they thought it was worth investigating the potential of this weapon

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

What is the primary role of the strike brigade?

Steve
Guest
Steve

No one has really explained it. Most of the puzzle makes sense, a highly mobile brigade that can be deployed globally. We know MBT are difficult to deploy unless you already know where in advance and forward place them. However the Ajax can’t be air lifted and so can only be deployed a little faster, and being tracked can’t self deploy, which means heavy logistics. Once they are in place, the opposition they are designed to take on it also unclear. I assume the logic is Russia invades say Poland or any other country invades an ally. Poland and neighboring… Read more »

Ben P
Guest
Ben P

Ajax is air life-able. Please dont state facts unless you have actually researched something.

Steve
Guest
Steve

From what I read, they can only fit into the aircraft, if they are taken apart. I didn’t count that as air liftable but I guess it technically is, just not that quickly. However that does mean they are deployable faster than MBT, that would need to be carried by sea.

they were originally intended to be air liftable and then they had to be up armoured as a result of afgan/Iraq and now don’t fit. At least that is what I understood.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

As I recall we abandoned our role in Boxer as it would not into a C130.

Airmobility quesion is interesting for the strike brigades.

How many C17 or A400M missions would it take to lift a strike brigade to say, Jordan? My guess would be in the several hundreds.

pete
Guest

Perhaps the challenger would be air portable with the power pack and turret removed?

Bill
Guest
Bill

“Strike” brigade; strike against what exactly? Shoot and scoot would be a better description with no anti-armour capability. Challenger 2 needs a new engine and a new smooth bore gun. Is the current upgrade yet another example of an MOD ‘world class’ weapon system along with the under gunned Ajax and the T45 as examples? All challenger 2’s to be unmothballed with a full upgrade to take it forward to at least 2030. Why do we always have a gap in capability putting our personnel at risk for the sake of a lousy few quid? Yes the CVRT’s have proved… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

there was talk that they could be fitted with an anti tank missile system (can’t remember which one) and that the UK decided against it. I assume that they could be upgraded, should the need arise. Fitted for but not with is not all bad, it means we get very capable equipment in the numbers needed today and the capability to upgrade tomorrow should it be needed.

Ben P
Guest
Ben P

A Javlin launcher can be put on the remote weapon platform. Just a matter of if they want to.

Mike Saul
Guest
Mike Saul

The lack of a LRATGW fitted to Ajax is a serious omission.

Colin
Guest
Colin

Defence bosses have already spent at least £381 million overhauling British tanks, new figures reveal, amid concerns over costs and delays. Why is uk goverment spending 381 million upgrading Warriors when most of these tanks will be scrapped And why is the Ajax Vehicle not fitted with TOW as standard

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Colin.

Warrior is not being scrapped.

As usual, due to the cost of doing things in the UK the Warrior Capability program will only upgrade a reduced amount of vehicles.

Under army2020 refine the army reduces from 6 battalions if Warrior to just 4.

So Warrior is not being scrapped.

As for Ajax having an anti tank capability as standard, the vehicles it replaces were mot fitted with atgw as standard either. They had a cvrt variant known as Striker equipped with Swingfire.
The current Scimitar had no atgw capability either.