The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recently disclosed substantial legal expenditures associated with the Ajax armoured vehicle programme.

Ajax, a £5.5 billion initiative, is the largest order for a UK armoured vehicle in over two decades, aimed at modernising the Army’s fleet of tracked reconnaissance vehicles.

Assembled in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, by General Dynamics, the programme has faced severe scrutiny from various government bodies, including the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, due to its repeated delays and management issues.

In a response to John Healey, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, James Cartlidge, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, reported that since 2010, the MoD has spent £873,689.12 on the Government Legal Department and an additional £110,072.53 on external legal counsel from the law firm Slaughter & May LLP.

The Ajax programme has encountered several significant setbacks, including issues with noise and vibration that pose risks to the health and safety of operating personnel.

These technical problems have led to multiple delays in the programme’s schedule, with the initial service entry date continually pushed back from 2017 to a current forecast of between July and December 2025 for initial operating capability, and full operating capability expected between October 2028 and September 2029.

Payments to General Dynamics for delivery of the programme resumed earlier this year.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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maurice10
maurice10
6 days ago

I’m not surprised. What about the Warrior upgrade programme, there should be a hefty payback on that too!

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Defence Command paper as quoted in UKDJ March 2021.
“We will no longer upgrade Warrior but it will remain in service until replaced by Boxer, which we expect to happen by the middle of this decade.”
Looking at the glacial Boxer build rate and the range of vehicles it is intended to replace I reckon its worth a small bet that there will be a quiet program to give some Warriors a ‘lite’ sustainment.

maurice10
maurice10
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I believe there is a case to retain at least two hundred Warrior at the new Ashchurch storage facility as a war reserve once Boxer is in full service. The Ukraine war has demonstrated the need for nations to have land assets to either donate or backfill. In the past, there was a good reason to dispose of redundant vehicles due to degradation, but humidity-controlled storage has changed the conditions hugely and made it much easier to retain valuable assets.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 days ago

Blimey that’s a lot of legal costs..that’s essentially 3000 hours of an experienced solicitors time.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
6 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Say that again! You could get three more T31s at current prices for that! Hope some PICs get held responsible and maybe get billed for some of all of it! What a carry on.

Toby J
Toby J
6 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Not sure about 3 T31.Nearly I million pounds of legal costs. A T31 costs £300 million

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
5 days ago
Reply to  Toby J

Whoops. I was off beam a bit there. Misread the commas, thought it read £900m. Luckily I’m not in high finance..😆

Last edited 5 days ago by Quentin D63
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Three frigates for £983k? Is that from Del Boy?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
5 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Lol. It’s been a long while since I watched Only Fools and Horses and Open all Hours. Miss the two Ronnie’s too. God, they made you laugh! Bargain at half the price! Okay, how about two then, special offer and a bit of change for the missus…lol 😁

Last edited 5 days ago by Quentin D63
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
6 days ago

I wonder if this will be one of the topics of conversation disscussed over dinner! 👍🇦🇺 The ceremonial splendour of a state visit was deployed to welcome the South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. “King Charles and Queen Camilla greeted the president and his wife at Horse Guards Parade in London. The royal couple and their guests had a carriage procession along the Mall, lined with South Korean flags, before going inside Buckingham Palace. Also meeting the South Korean leaders were PM Rishi Sunak and Lord Cameron, now returned as foreign secretary. While in London, the president is launching plans… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I thought you were going to suggest we buy K2 Black Panther MBT and K9 Thunder SPG at one point!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Correct, along with the K239 Chunmoo and of course the Redback!

We would have had some excellent kit this side of this decade and an industry to match.

The first batch of 18 K239 Chunmoo integrated with Polish subsystems, such as trucks and fire control systems, is expected to be delivered in 2023.

The MLRS systems are expected to enter service with the 18th Mechanized Division of the Polish Armed Forces. It will protect North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) eastern flank, safeguarding eastern Poland and other NATO countries.

LINK

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Aaaah, Redback AS21 IFV. Devloped from the K21, which was amazing VfM at $3.2m a copy, but of course you know that the MoD has decided that we will replace Warrior, not by upgraded Warrior, but by Boxer.

The deal is done on this bizarre decision, the order placed, metal is being cut.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I’m not sure if you have read this Graham. “As part of the Integrated Review the Army will: Invest £1.3 billion in armoured capability by upgrading 148 main battle tanks to Challenger 3. Accelerate and enhance the Boxer programme to deliver full operational capability by 2030. It will become the primary mechanised infantry platform for the Army. Procure a new ground-based air defence system to give the Army the capability to defeat all modern airborne threats, including small drones. Invest over £250 million over ten years in the Guided MLRS (GMLRS) which will provide an upgraded long-range rocket artillery platform.… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Thanks Nigel, it looks familiar and sounds impressive. But:

  1. 148 CR3 tanks is not enough and
  2. I doubt Boxer will be an effective replacement for the cancelled upgraded Warrior (WCSP).
  3. MLRS – we should have bought ATACMs years ago ie in the early 90s.
  4. The army does not have 4 medium helo types: it has the small fleets of 3 Bell 212 and 6 Airbus AS365 Dauphin. The RAF have the other 2 types – Puma HC2, Bell 412 Griffin.
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I fully agree, hence the reason the for bold type in relation to the Boxer program “to deliver full operational capability by 2030″ and my long-standing argument to build a solid working relationship with SK that benefits both countries.

It seems to me we have adopted the approach of too little too late and over budget when it comes to defense.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 hour ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I think the time is right to buy SK products off the shelf or mildly modifed to enable British kit to fit – radios, BVs!

But we should not cancel on-contract programmes to do this.

Firstly, the army needs to recapitalise quickly – no new AFVs were ordered in a 20 year period and very little AFV upgrades were done – shameful.

Secondly, we also need to re-discover the ability to design and build army equipment at home, across all types from AFVs to ‘B’ Vehs to arty – and for that kit to also be appealing to export customers.

klonkie
klonkie
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi Graham

Seems you missed Wildcat Lynx? 660 AAC sqn also operates the Juno as part of the DHFS.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 hours ago
Reply to  klonkie

Whooops! Yes, I did miss it off. Thanks.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

With a small upgrade, it appears. Rheinmetall to supply rear view cameras for UK Warriors 23 NOVEMBER 2023 “The British Army’s Warrior infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) will be equipped with rear view cameras as part of a contract with Rheinmetall Electronics UK. Valued in the low double-digit million-euro range and announced on 21 November, the contract will involve the provision of Trailblazer day/night vehicle vision sensors for 359 Warrior IFVs. The sensors will be used as a Rear Safety Camera System (RSCS), improving the driver’s visibility and ability to recognise terrain and personnel at the rear of the vehicle. The… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Nigel Collins
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
14 minutes ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Not denying that there have been a few upgrades in the last 35 years service! More significant than reversing cameras in the last few years of service, were the fitting of Thales’ BGTI and Bowman.
Just not the very sgnificant upgrades that would have come with WCSP.

Mark B
Mark B
6 days ago

Legal costs suggest a severe breakdown in the client / supplier relationship which reflects badly on the procurement process & those involved from all sides you would have thought.

Jacko
Jacko
6 days ago

Well some on here want to scrap Ajax and pay even more legal costs😂

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

At a time when Ajax is being fielded too!

Paul
Paul
6 days ago

Unbelievable. The taxpayer has been betrayed again. GD should be paying all legal costs related to this late not fit for purpose joke of a contract!

Peter tattersll
Peter tattersll
6 days ago
Reply to  Paul

It’s more than good enough for purpose. It will end up a big success like the much criticised F35.

kev
kev
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Customer scope creep, what GD should have done is say no to changes instead of leaning forward to accommodate and then it wouldn’t have encountered many of the issues in the first place.

pete
pete
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul

It is an offence under road traffic act 76 (5) to use a defective vehicle or supply defective parts for use on a public road lol

Jonbosley
Jonbosley
6 days ago

Having massed regiments of essentially reconnaissance regiments (now termed light cavalry) with very low numbers of heavy armour makes little sense.
It will be around 3 reconnaissance regiments to each heavy armoured regiment. Or am I missing something here, surely no one is expecting these vehicles to go toe to toe with much of anything?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  Jonbosley

You are. The seemingly high number of recc Regs is due to near 20 years of defence cuts from 2005 on when Tanks have been withdrawn, but The Regiment using them has not, but converted to CVRT vehicles. Some of those in turn got rid of CVRT and got Jackal. Of Light Cavalry Regiments there are but 3. Only one of which might get near Tanks or other heavy armour, and that’s the Reg supporting DRSB. The other 2 Regs are in 1 Div with 7 and 4 Bdes. The other recc Regs are termed Armoured Cavalry. There are currently… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago

Correction, KRH not QRH!!🙄

klonkie
klonkie
1 day ago

Nice summary DM!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Jonbosley

A regiment of 56 tanks includes a Recce Troop (doing Close Recce) of 8 Ajax. An armoured brigade (ABCT) has an armoured cavalry (not light cavalry) regiment ahead of the manouevre units (doing Medium Recce). There are two ABCTs in 3 Div. Two other armoured cavalry regts with Ajax are in 1 DSBRT operating with artillery in the new-style Strike concept. Ajax can do other things such as flank protection. I think you under-estimate the 40mm stabilised cannon of Ajax – it would be able to go toe to toe with a lot of enemy equipment, if not undertaking the… Read more »

Ian M
Ian M
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonbosley

The CT40 APFSDS round will penetrate over 140mm at 1500m, that’s good enough for a mobility kill on most MBTs, certain death for a BMP type.

Ian M
Ian M
3 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

That’s 140mm of RHA

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
23 hours ago
Reply to  Ian M

👍

pete
pete
5 days ago

Think the Government should make GD fit Soucy rubber tracks which can reduce vibration by up to 70% , noise reduction up to 13% instead of let them get away with isolation mounts and thick seats and noise cancelling headsets. Morpheus communications system which is also late was supposed to go in Ajax. Who pays for fitting when the Bowman has to come out ?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 days ago
Reply to  pete

Actually that cosies up to a question I was going to ask. If this is effectively 10 plus years late into full service what effect has that had on all the electronics (or other systems) that were designed to go into it. Are they now ten year older designs, updated versions of the same products or different equipment altogether. What implications has that on the modernity and effectiveness of the platform in 5 years if any. Will upgrades be needed when it’s been only a short time in service, or does it rapidly fall behind in terms of competitiveness, the… Read more »

Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan
4 days ago

I’m still convinced there is a very capable platform in the offing with Ajax. We all love to slag off Government incompetence and wastage, ineptitude and general twittery, but I think we are past that now and Ajax is starting to emerge as a proper bit of kit. Certainly the feedback I’ve read from the Army guys testing it is encouraging. Is it just me or does anyone else think that we should be able to use a Spike or Jav-armed Ajax/Ares as a fairly easy option to replace Warrior? Lose the recce-specific gear, all but one of the radios… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago
Reply to  Chris Morgan

Ajax takes just 3 men. Ares takes 7 men. Neither can take an 8-man infantry section plus veh driver and turret gunner ie 10 men. Neither is an IFV, nor could easily, quickly or cheaply converted to an IFV. Anyway we don’t have spare Ajax or Ares to spare for conversion.

The MoD has decided to phase out IFVs. Boxer, a MIV, will replace Warrior.

If MoD did a U-turn and wanted a proper IFV again, it could refresh the upgraded Warrior (WCSP) programme or we could buy MOTS such as CV90.

DJ
DJ
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

From my POV, Boxer can do Ajax job (with the right module). Boxer though doesn’t make a great IFV. Donate Ajax to Ukraine. Buy CV90 or Redback for IFV. CV90 also has a recon version if you really want tracked. All this requires the magic money tree. So alas, it is what it is.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 days ago
Reply to  DJ

Boxer CRV can clearly fill a recce and flank protection role, but its cannon would not be as good as the stabilised 40mm CTAS of Ajax. Its mobility will not be as good, being a wheeled vehicle. The Boxer we have bought with the RS4 RSW is not an IFV – it is a MIV aka APC. It should not be in the ABCTs – need a proper tracked IFV (upgraded Warrior, CV90, Redback….anything). Donate Ajax to Ukraine!! Our newest AFV! The army is desperately re-equipping after 20 years in the doldrums and you suggest giving away £billions of new… Read more »

Martin
Martin
4 days ago

Worth the money to get it fixed, great vehicle and hope to see the MOD get money back on other not completed contracts ie Warrior.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 days ago
Reply to  Martin

MoD chose not to complete the upgraded Warrior programme – they cancelled the contract.

Martin
Martin
3 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

very true, a massive mistake,

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
4 days ago

This legal spend is over 13 years. I wonder what the details are? A legal spend in the period running up to Contract Award is understandable but is most of this spend down to the raft of problem issues in the last 5 or 6 years?

Tom
Tom
2 days ago

£983,000… 😂 and the rest.