As part of normal business, the Ministry of Defence keeps a range of capabilities under review.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the suitability of Combat Vehicle 90 for the Army.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, replied:

“When selecting the new armoured fighting vehicle for the Army a number of possibilities were considered, including the CV90. After a full competitive process, the Ajax vehicles was selected. As part of normal business, the Ministry of Defence keeps a range of capabilities under review to ensure our Armed Forces are equipped to face future threats.”

What is CV90?

The CV90 is a family of highly tactical armoured combat vehicles developed by BAE Systems.

Slovak MoD settles on CV90 as its preferred new tracked IFV | Defense Brief

The builders say here “The CV90 family of vehicles give unrivalled performance in the 20-35 tonne class and have been deployed by national forces, the UN and NATO in missions across the globe including in Afghanistan”.

The Ajax programme, which began in 2010, is intended to transform the Army’s surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

However, it has gone badly wrong, with no deployable vehicle delivered to date let alone providing Initial Operating Capability or Full Operating Capability dates, say the Public Accounts Committee in a report released recently.

Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said that the government “must fix or fail this programme, before more risk to our national security and more billions of taxpayers’ money wasted”, adding “these repeated failures are putting strain on older capabilities which are overdue for replacement and are directly threatening the safety of our service people and their ability to protect the nation and meet Nato commitments”.

The report states that the Department (the Ministry of Defence) has a £5.5 billion firm-price contract with General Dynamics Land Systems UK for the design, manufacture and initial in-service support of 589 Ajax armoured vehicles.

“The Department initially expected to bring Ajax into service in 2017 but subsequently missed a revised target of June 2021. By December 2021, the Department had paid General Dynamics £3.2 billion but received only 26 Ajax vehicles, none of which it can use. The programme remains in turmoil because the Department still does not know whether the noise and vibration problems—which since July 2020 it has known may have injured soldiers—are fixable. It does not expect to determine this until late 2022. The Department is not willing to set a new target for initial operating capability before the noise and vibration problems are resolved and it does not know when it will be able to introduce the full capability into service. There remains considerable uncertainty over how to resolve these safety issues and the programme is slipping further behind schedule as the Department and General Dynamics seek to agree a way forward. The slow progress and continued delays create significant risks to value for money, put at risk the Army’s plans for transformation and mean soldiers will have to use existing outdated vehicles for longer.

The Department’s management of the programme was flawed from the outset as the programme was over-specified and the Department and General Dynamics did not understand the scale of the technical challenge. We have seen similar failings again and again in the Department’s management of its equipment programmes. The Ajax programme also raises serious concerns about the Department’s processes and culture for testing whether new equipment is safe to use.

The Department needs to learn the lessons from the Ajax programme to ensure the litany of failures is never repeated and that our service personnel receive the equipment they need for operations and the nation’s defence. As a matter of the upmost urgency, the Department must establish whether noise and vibration issues can be addressed by modifications or whether they require a fundamental redesign of the vehicle. If the latter, the Department must decide whether the right course is to proceed with General Dynamics or if it should opt for an alternative. We expect an update on this when we next take evidence and a definitive decision, either one way or the other, by December 2022. After twelve years, enough is enough.”

The report also adds:

“As this Committee highlighted in its recent report on the MoD Equipment Plan 2021–31, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine only reinforces the urgent need for the Department to reform, prioritise and effectively manage its expenditure to ensure the Armed Forces can secure all the equipment that they need in the quickest possible time.

The Department’s original in-service date, 2017, was revised to June 2021, which has also been missed. It will not set a new initial operating capability date until it has resolved the on-going noise and vibration problems, and has no confidence in achieving the full operating capability target of April 2025. Therefore, 12 years after letting the design contract, the Department has no realistic target dates for introducing the Ajax capability. We are also extremely concerned that the Department may accept compromises on the level of capability that will be achieved at these milestones.

Further, the Department is encountering difficulties on the enabling programmes needed to deliver the intended capability improvements and allow the Army to deploy Ajax on operations. In particular, delays to the Morpheus programme mean it will take longer before Ajax has the enhanced digital and communication systems which are so important to the way in which the Army plans to use the vehicles. The Department is seeking to develop a longer-term relationship with industry to enable upgrades throughout Ajax’s service life to keep pace with technological developments and future military threats.”

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 works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Steve
Steve
13 days ago

The title is misleading, he was stating that as part of the original procurement they considered the CV90, he doesn’t state that this is still being monitored or considered.

Aaron L
Aaron L
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Even if you interoperated it as the CV90 was being kept under review as a potential option, it doesn’t mean it’s being considered. I can’t see then admitting defeat on Ajax at this point and canning the whole program, too much money and time has been wasted up to this point. Even if we were to ditch the Ajax for CV90, as much as it’s an off the shelf product, how long would it take to get them into service? Also you have to consider the age of the CV90 now. A better choice might be Lynx, being a much… Read more »

RobW
RobW
13 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

Is there a recce variant of Lynx? It seems to be an IFV, for which we are already committed to Boxer, warts and all.

Aaron L
Aaron L
13 days ago
Reply to  RobW

There isn’t currently a recce variant from what I can find but that doesn’t mean that one couldn’t be made.

There is an argument for increasing the Boxer order to include the recce variant of that platform. The Australians are going for it by the look of it.

Steve
Steve
13 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

I saw there was now a tracked version of the boxer, that might be a better option, as it would allow commonality of modules. Although it’s a prototype and so who knows how good or bad it is, can’t really tell that as a member of public, without it being battle tested.

Aaron L
Aaron L
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

There is a recce variant of the wheeled Boxer already, as we have already ordered Boxer, it might be an idea to include the recce variant.

Stu
Stu
13 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

Not necessarily my preferred option but I’m inclined to think this (Boxer recce) will be the route they follow if they get the nerve to scrap Ajax.
Low risk, low(er) cost, upgradable & already built (or going to be, not sure where we are with that) in UK.

Aaron L
Aaron L
12 days ago
Reply to  Stu

Wouldn’t be my preferred option either but, I think the most sensible option. Like you say though, they need the nerve to scrap the project and take the heat that will bring with it.

It means the Army could open a central maintenance hub if we were to expand our use of Boxer.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
12 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

A recce Boxer would be easy to hide – you could just paint it to resemble a semi detached house, agricultural building or stack of freight containers.

Aaron L
Aaron L
12 days ago
Reply to  Chris Werb

Could say the same for any armoured vehicles… Ajax, Bradley, Warrior and many others are all substantial vehicles to have to hide. Arguably the easiest “armoured” vehicle to hide would be the German Weasel at only 6ft tall.

Stu
Stu
13 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

“How long?” – Ajax was supposed to reach IOC in 2017 (7 years from award) but I guess this was to allow development of tech to go in it. Aussie boxer (nearest relatable thing I can think of) was awarded 2018 for IOC in 2021/22 (not sure if this slipped). My guess for an ‘off the shelf’ product like CV90 would be IOC in 3 years(?). Still better than the ‘quietly confident 2030’ I heard about Ajax. Seems we all keep having this conversation eh? I’m with you though; as good as CV90 is, I lean toward Lynx – newer… Read more »

Aaron L
Aaron L
12 days ago
Reply to  Stu

It wouldn’t be my first choice either given how long the MoD has taken with Ajax. With the tracked variant of the Boxer coming down the pipe, it could make it an even more attractive decision if we were dead set on a tracked vehicle for the job. The CV90 design is getting on for 30 years old at this point. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to drop money on a design that old when there are other newer options on the table. Realistically Ajax is just the tip of the iceberg with Army procurement. There are… Read more »

Davy H
Davy H
12 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

As far as ‘age’ of the CV90 is concerned, one way of looking at it is to compare the legendary Porsche 911 first introduced in 1964 with today’s Porsche 911. A vastly improved vehicle – yes? With the Ajax debacle in mind, I’d feel more confident going for the experience and know how behind the CV90 which continues to improve and evolve. There would also be commonality of spares and parts, etc., with 4 other NATO partners (potentially 6, if Turkey lets Sweden and Finland join).

Aaron L
Aaron L
12 days ago
Reply to  Davy H

That’s an extreme example. Although there may have been upgrades, the chassis is the same as it was when it was first designed.
The Porsche will have no common components between the ’64 model and todays model.

I get what you’re getting at but we should be taking steps forward into modern designs rather than keep going with old ones. Otherwise we may as well have cracked on and upgraded Warrior and just made that do the job.

Davy H
Davy H
12 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

I should hope so 58 years after the first Porsche 911 was introduced! My point was not to be dismissive of a good product by the date a first model was introduced. Give CV90 another 29 years to catch up with the Porsche 911’s 58 years or Leopard 2’s 43 years of continued improvement and who knows. New improved models of all three still being made and all still highly regarded. Alas, Warrior’s evolution ended when production stopped.  Arguably, there are no real ‘new’ IFV designs, as such – all are (meant to be) improvements on a metal box on caterpillar tracks. All… Read more »

Aaron L
Aaron L
12 days ago
Reply to  Davy H

I’m not 100% dismissive of the CV90, the two options that I mention in the form of the Lynx and the Boxer both have advantages over the CV90. Lynx would require work on a recce variant as one doesn’t exist at this point but, it does have a higher max weight so more wiggle room on additions. Boxer has a recce variant already which means no need to develop one. We are already buying it which means more fleet commonality, easier logistics and training. Boxer is also faster than all of the other options at a top speed of 63mph,… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
12 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

We seem to often buy equipment based on design origins which date back decades – the Boxer programme started in 1993 with first vehicles produced in 2002. Boeing P-8 Poseidon is based on the 737 which first flew in 1967.

Aaron L
Aaron L
12 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not quite, design work started on Boxer in ’98 and first produced in 2009.

The P8 is based on a 737-800 which is hardly comparable to a 737-100. Would be better looking at the RC-135’s and the other 707 based aircraft that are scattered through air force inventories around the world.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

Thanks Aaron. The Boxer entry on Wiki must be wrong then. Its still an old design.

maurice10
maurice10
11 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

Lynx but built under license in the Ajax factory in South Wales. This vehicle would be ideal for an Ajax replacement and I’m sure Rhinemettal could design a number of variants to fit with the UK’s Army needs?

Aaron L
Aaron L
11 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

If you could get GD to admit fault and pay for the delays and cancellation of the program then that would be ideal for shifting the Welsh factory over to Lynx if a deal could be found.

The only issue with Lynx would be the time taken to get it into production the IOC. Especially if a good amount of work has to go into creating a recce variant.

Bill
Bill
11 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

General Dynamics must be in breach of every clause in the original contract and subsequent extensions also. How hard is it??
Ditch the program, get GD to pay suitable recompense and move on. Upgrade the Warrior for one. Then buy something proven off the bloody shelf. These people couldn’t run a hot dog stall.

Aaron L
Aaron L
11 days ago
Reply to  Bill

In the civilian world not very hard, i’m sure there is added complication when dealing with government bureaucracy, especially when you’ve got people in the program likely lining up jobs for the future when they leave either government or the military.

Warrior upgrade would be a good stop gap measure. At least then we would have something usable until we could get something up to IOC.

What vehicle would be your choice as an off the shelf solution? The more i think about it, the more Boxer makes sense.

Bill
Bill
10 days ago
Reply to  Aaron L

Why not? It’s an armoured recce vehicle. Shoot if you have to but scoot is primary. If you’re spotted the recce is compromised but it has to have the punch if push comes to shove with a confrontation which is almost a given.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  George Allison

Yeah that’s how I read it. Ajax decision due December 2022. That will be a point that a decision is made regarding fixing or dumping. Makes sense that the military would keep an eye on all military vehicle programs around the world. My opinion is Ajax is fixable. But it may take a complete Redesign and remanufacture. Basically a new vehicle. Right now it’s too loud, too heavy, over armoured, needs a raisable mast and integrated drones. Trying to do to much with one vehicle making it a strike asset. Concentrate on the recon so CVRT replacement. Perhaps the numbers… Read more »

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
12 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

You could interpret what was written to mean that they continued to monitor it on the basis that it might be adopted by a nation that could pose a threat to us.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

To me fixable does not realistically mean a complete redesign and remanufacture; that is scrapping and starting again. There is not the time to do that – and who would pay? GDUK does not have the money – they made a feeble £75m profit last year. I totally agree that Ajax is the wrong vehicle for recce and it was a mistake to give it the Strike role as well. I think Strike needs to be defined to determine what equipment is required to do it. If it means to destroy or degrade enemy armour at long range then a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I’ve always thought “Strike ” was a fancy buzzword for PM Cameron to make headlines while another armoured brigade got chopped as it converted to Strike.

Which, even with Strikes demise, has happened, sadly.

What was Strike striking with Light Guns as it’s artillery and it’s firepower in Ajax with Boxers as infantry carrier?

No HIMARS, no modern wheeled SPG, no CS/CSS, no dispersed wheeled AD assets.

Pure spin. Have the findings of the strike experimental group which cost us another brigade ever been made public as to how it was to operate dispersed?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
8 days ago

Hi Daniele,

MIVs (Boxers) were supposed to replace remaining 432s in AI (Warrior) Bns. But instead Boxer battalions within Strike Bdes were mooted. We seemed to have more Ajax than was required for Formation Recce so they seemed to have been offered up to Strike brigades. We seem to have invented a concept to make use of the vehicles that were around the corner!
Then binned the strike concept and the 2 strike brigades.
Its a mess.
I too googled Strike Experimentation Group and found out almost nothing of their work over the last 5 years.

David Steeper
David Steeper
13 days ago

And so it goes on and on. there are probably a lot of now senior officers connected to this shit show who are worried about their future job prospects if Ajax finally sinks. I honestly don’t know why. Maybe some briefcase carrier or the bloke in charge of buying the hobnobs will carry the can but that’s as far as it will go.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

David,
You focus on senior officers as being at fault – many should be in your ‘cross hairs’. Such as: DGDQA, GDUK, MoD politicians and senior civil servants, MoD and DRAC Requirements staff…..

David Steeper
David Steeper
11 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Ok. Plenty of blame to go around.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

One ex DG Land at DES ended up at GDUK I read?

Angus
Angus
13 days ago

Yet another Army hash up on equipment. Do we still need Ajax or can the recon role be undertaken by other means that actually deliver the intell needed? It’s far from fast, light and mobile as actually needed. RN could have gotten 2 x fully equipped air wings for the carriers that are both up and running. Such a Sham.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Angus

Intel for land operations has always been gathered by a variety of assets and armoured recce vehicles is just one of them. We still need a replacement for Scimitar despite those who are so impressed by drones that think that is all the army need to acquire intel.
Ajax must be the most disastrous land equipment programme in British history. The wrong vehicle designed and built by the wrong company from very bad MoD Requirements and not properly controlled by MoD senior officers, civil servants or politicians.

Jonathan
Jonathan
13 days ago

It’s really hard to believe they have managed to spaf away 3.6 billion and yet not receive a usable vehicle. What the hell procurement programme gives away the bulk of the programmes finance without any product being delivered. I hope there is a process for claw back.

just think what the U.K. could have purchased for that 3.6 billion.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

3.6 billion.
Could purchase 14 more poseidon MPA. 3 more type 26s.
36 more F35Bs.
Likely 300 kfv51 panther new MBTs.

Jonathan
Jonathan
12 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Makes you want to cry a little bit.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
11 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

And 1&1/2 more Astutes… Lol 😁

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If that £3.6bn has been passed to GDUK following sign-off at milestone points by DE&S staff, there will be little scope for claw back.

Andrew Thorne
Andrew Thorne
13 days ago

Just ditch Ajax and take the hit. Then just purchase the CV90. I don’t subscribe to the theory to move forward with a project just because of sunk costs. Whatever happened Ajax is clearly not fit for purpose and so is a distraction for our Army. Given the volatile situation around the world we need something that works and that looks like the CV90. Please MoD just get on with ditching Ajax and moving forward with CV90. If this upsets General Dynamics give them a carrot to be involved in future programmes elsewhere – subject to performance review.

RobW
RobW
13 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

The issue with CV90 is that there is only a basic recce version in service with Norway. We would certainly want to up the spec, which brings the same potential problems as Ajax, particularly if the armour is uprated adding more weight. I agree though that it seems to be a good option, but only if they don’t go too mad with the specification.

russ
russ
13 days ago
Reply to  RobW

There’s also the question of the investment in the “upgraded” 40mm gun and its cased telescopic ammuniton…….

Davy H
Davy H
12 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Out of interest, are you simply referring to the latest Norwegian spec CV90 Mk.IV (obviously I’m thinking of the 144 new and upgraded vehicles – five different versions – ordered in 2012 and delivered in 2019)?

Stu
Stu
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

Think you nailed it there Andrew – looks increasingly like they’ve fallen for the “sunk cost fallacy”. That and a fear of admitting failure.

Not sure I’m that fussed about ‘upsetting GD’ too much though.

johan
johan
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

Main Issue to that entire point is, in base model form, CV90 lost to Ajax in a straight fight originally. then the MOD added the bells and whistles and took the baseline model and screwed the Pooch.

Need to change tact completely if there going to bin Ajax.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

You must mean the Norwegian recce version of CV90. It perhaps lacks the digitised, networked sophistication required by our army.
Don’t worry about upsetting GDUK – they should never design, build or upgrade another vehicle for the British Army ever again.

RobW
RobW
13 days ago

I’m sure someone within the MOD/Army has at least some knowledge of CV90 and it’s recce abilities, but it is all academic until a decision is made on Ajax and that seems to be several years away. Meanwhile the army just carries on with ageing equipment, yet again. Part of it will be money. They are hoping Ajax is salvageable in order to limit the cost. After all, we have spent a majority of the program budget already, so to can it and move on to CV90 would cost more. They’d need more money from the Treasury, which does not… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by RobW
Andrew Thorne
Andrew Thorne
13 days ago
Reply to  RobW

I think it’s unlikely that Ajax will work so best to can it and use CV90 if it has the capabilities the Army needs.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  RobW

We are told that the decision on Ajax will be made in 6 months time, not several years. I hope that Ajax will not be allowed to stagger on just because of loss of face or concern at losing £3.2bn.
If Ajax is cancelled I doubt we will get much of the £3.2bn back as it will have been spent following sign-off at milestones by (satisfied!) MoD staff.
HM Treasury will not come up with another £3.2bn to add to the £2.3bn unspent and oversee/allow another £5.5bn programme.
You will probably be right that cuts will be imposed.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
11 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Why are they waiting until December? Give them 1-2 more months and that’s it! Game up! Get as much money back as you can, maybe charge whoever can be held unaccountable for gross incompetence and move on! Stop wasting time, money, resources, energy, defence risk and get on with fixing this issue! Mr Wallace, Mr Quinn, whoever, time to crack the whip!!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
10 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hi Quentin, I have been around the block long enough to have the answer! The news will be bad, either MoD cans the programme and tries deperately (but largely unsuccessfully) to get a few quid back from the £3.2bn expended – or it can be fixed or part-fixed but the army must wait an extra few years. If it is cancelled, don’t expect the Treasury to happily ‘give the army’ another £3.2bn to put with the £2.3bn unspent to buy something else. The HoC rises for Xmas recess on 21st Dec – the news will be released on 20th or… Read more »

Simon
Simon
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I would agree that it is very unlikely that the Treasury will cough up that type of money again if Ajax proves to be a total write off

AlexS
AlexS
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I guess they put decision just near Christmas for journalists to not notice it…

nonsense
nonsense
13 days ago

Ajax is often referred to as an unacceptable failure.

But no one takes responsibility and no one demands responsibility.

It is acceptable enough!!!!

With no fix and no one getting fired for failure, MOD will buy chunks of junk in 2040 for £150 B.

It would be better to make the mummies in the museum into generals and make them procurement managers!

The idiots make the taxpayer’s money disappear into the air!

Bulkhead
Bulkhead
13 days ago

If it wasn’t so sad I’d larf

Mark Franks
Mark Franks
13 days ago

The whole project is a silve lined gravy train and the project will roll on and enter service with problems NOT solved. No-one is going to be brave enough to stick there heads above the parapet and make a decision. Who will fall on their sword for this mess?

Last edited 13 days ago by Mark Franks
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Mark Franks

Its not much of a gravy train for anyone – GDUK only made a miserable £75m profit last year.
No-one will fall on their sword as blame can be scattered so many ways not just to one individual.

John Hartley
John Hartley
13 days ago

Perhaps the new tracked version of Boxer should also be an option.

RobW
RobW
13 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Possibly for future orders for IFV but it looks a tad big for the recce role. A limited order of CV90 might be the best option for that, then go for wheeled and tracked Boxer for everything else.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Part of me thinks Recce should be done by cheap Bayraktar TB-2 drones.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Can you really do the land part of Recce with a 42 ton monster? Yes it needs to be protected & armed, but under 20 tons, to get in & out of tight places quick.

John Hartley
John Hartley
11 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

That Cockerill Interceptor looks interesting. Fast, based on Dakar rally cars. A retractable 25mm turret. So driving around quiet built up areas, without attracting attention. Weighs 7-8 tons. Has stanag levels of armour. So light, nippy, low profile, agile, armed, protected. Just right for recce, paired with drones.

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

What about that turret on a foxhound and also our man trucks or anything that doesn’t currently have a proper gun. It’s very smart idea

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

One TB-2 drone costs $5m, then you have the ground control station and the trained operator and the maintainers….Maybe not so cheap.
Drones have limited loiter time and can be shot down or jammed – they are not perfect. To gather intelligence the army has always hada range of equipment, not just one option; we need drones and manned recce vehicles.

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

A complete TB-2 mission set is reported to cost $67 million. That’s 6 TB-2 + ground stations.. Already proven. Instead of £3 billion+ on Ajax with nothing working.

AlexS
AlexS
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

You cannot have recce be done by just one asset.

Pacman27
Pacman27
13 days ago

I think CV90 has missed the boat now, surely the UK is going down a Boxer Tracked/Wheeled solution. key question is can Rheinmetal offer the tracked chassis using its KF31/41 so we can standardise our production Clearly the ability to pre position the tractor units and fly in the modules as needed is a big plus – also means you can update both in isolation. The whole dynamic has changed now I think – as long as the armour protection levels can be maintained/improved. Additionally, all our new vehicles really need to have hybrid drives, both from a performance and… Read more »

Jon
Jon
13 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I don’t think Rheinmetal have any stake in the tracked Boxer chassis and they’d have to develop a Lynx hybrid from scratch. Tracked Boxer is from KMW and would be in competition with Lynx.

Pacman27
Pacman27
12 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Correct, but I do think they will need to get onto it and offer a solution or they are going to lose business. Seems to me the army needs to partner with rheinmetal metal and the IDF who are a powerhouse of innovation. And lethality on land systems

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

On challenger2 I thought the best solution would be cheap upgrade, do the targeting sights. Leave the gun. Any other upgrades or part changes that need done to keep it running until 2035-40. It seems so much money for the numbers ordered and taking so long to bring it to service. Start a new tank development 2026-30 when we are seeing if 130mm-140mm is the nato standard. Hopefully this fits in time scales with a new German tank, USA tank or any other nation that knows what they are doing. Even if it’s a joint project on just chassis or… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
12 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I agree and for me we probably need Rheinmetal but we are in a great position as our fleet is so poor across the board there is work for years yet. Can Rheinmetal provide us with a KF31/41 that takes boxer modules and would one of those modules be able to take the new 130mm gun I really don’t get how we are spending more money on upgrades than we do on new kit. the TLAM is the same – far more than buying new product, use what we have for back up stock and move on for the money… Read more »

Stu
Stu
12 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

KF31/41 has a different solution to the “modular” where essentially the roof section is replace. I honestly question how useful the whole “modular” element of the boxer is. ‘Can be changed in the field in 1 hour’ – yeah, but will we ever really need it/do it?! I have my doubts. Upgrade over new – inclined to agree. Obviously I don’t know the whole details of the deal but TLAM upgrade as an example = $4M each but new price is listed as $2M… seems strange. If anyone knows why, please educate me. I suspect that we avoid upgrades (save… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
8 days ago
Reply to  Stu

The modular in Boxer it to make it more expensive and heavier.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Who in MOD is actively considering tracked Boxer?
CR2 has not been significantly upgraded, ever – it should not stay in service unmodified.

Pacman27
Pacman27
11 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi Graham CR2 is still relevant but not cutting edge. It will be good enough for 5 years. Let’s buy something new and better like the KF51 or tracked boxer if we really do believe tracks are needed. In 10 years time when CR3 is ready it will be obsolete what is the point of upgrading it if we can’t reap the benefits. I would prefer we keep CR2 and buy 50-75 KF51’s or 100 tracked boxers with the money we are spending on an upgrade It is a choice I am happy to stand behind primarily as I am… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
10 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

CR2 should have been upgraded several times since introduction to service, so we are in a jam now. It will instead have a single massive, expensive and slow upgrade – a very sub-optimal situation. We should also have kicked off the CR2 replacement project (and I don’t mean the current CR3 upgrade project) in about 2010-2015, but we didn’t. It is a risk to keep CR2 in service unmodified but if the opposition has quite old Soviet/Russian designed tanks we might get away with it if we had 227 or more tanks in-service. I quite like the KF51 and would… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Next Gen Abrams will be presented in 10 October this year. Supposedly with a unmmaned turret.

Daveyb
Daveyb
9 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

With regards to the 130mm gun, not really! The reason why I say this, is that no other NATO country is using it, yet! By 2030, it may be used on the German-French MCGS but until then, we will be in the same predicament as when using the rifled 120. We will the only NATO country sing it and thereby finding ammo will be a problem. However, the turret for the future Challenger 3 has been designed to accept the larger 130mm gun. So the tank in a way is future proofed. When Germany and France adopt the 130, we… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Daveyb thanks for such a comprehensive reply which I really appreciate. Let’s start with wheels v tracks as I think this is the biggest decision from which all others stem. Do we need tracks? Can we get by with wheels that turn into tracks (hybrid approach) I would really like to see the UK work out once and for all the optimal solution, but for me I think a wheeled vehicle with the ability to automatically change to triangular tracks is probably good enough (and it’s real). 80% wheels are needed and 15% the wheeled tracks will do leaving a… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Pacman27
DaveyB
DaveyB
8 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I base my assessment on previous experience. Having witnessed shed loads of wheeled vehicles getting stuck in the mud, sand or snow. The one that sticks out most in my mind, was when a whole platoon of US Army Strykers got stuck in wet sand, following a down pour (biblical mind). This was on the Al Faw peninsula in Iraq. The first Styker got stuck when going off road, the second got stuck trying to rescue it, then a third followed by a fourth. They had called for assistance. We were nearby traveling in a group of mixed vehicles with… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
8 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Once again thank you I will stick with my other email as to the way forward in the hope that either boxer tracked or the wheels that turn into triangle tracks are available and we get a proper layered strategy going What I would say is I think Warrior is a cracking vehicle in so many ways and given that the optimal amount of dismounts is probably 4 and the only reason it’s more is cost that the benefits of having a smaller well protected vehicle are probably starting to outweigh the negatives. Whilst I personally think boxer is far… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
9 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Daveyb Would like to pick your brain I guess what I am trying to say is can we remove the need for tanks in preference for something like the KF41 with radar and the fillowing 1.105mm gun, 4 ATW and a 20mm aerial gun 2 CTA40, 8 ATW (CTA has air burst rounds Remember every vehicle would have this set up and rely on ATW and precision fires to knock out tanks. If you were pushed which would you go for? I am edging towards CTA with precision fires standardising on 155mm and precision fires for the main force. Are… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
8 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

No worries mate. Sadly the 105mm gun is no longer capable of penetrating a modern MBT frontally. From the turret sides and side of the hull to the hull’s front, a 105 APFSDS will have trouble penetrating. The engine area sides and rear are realistically the only place where the 105 can cause a mobility kill, unless it hits the track. The 105 still can provide decent fire support, just not anti-tank duties. The CTAS 40 is currently the most powerful gun in its class. The telescoping cartridge allows for a greater volume of propellent. But also allows the shell… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
8 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Thanks mate. So I am going bold here with the following statement. Remove 105 and 120 guns from the main field force and standardise as follows on boxer 1 all boxer to have an RT60 turret with remote CTA40 and 4 ATW / loitering munitions and APS 2. Short range fires to be provided by the 120mm double barrelled Amos mortar on boxer 3. Mid range 155mm RCH on boxer 4. All other fires to be loitering or mlrs from a combination of HMT or HX platforms or similar 5. Same for the air defence although some will need to… Read more »

Stu
Stu
8 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Bold. When you say ‘wheels that can turn into tracks’ are you meaning the attached. If so, I’d have my doubts. They combine some of the advantages of wheels & tracks but also combine many of the bad features. Tyres rely on air to provide a cushion and smooth ride at speed. Lowering air pressure improves the footprint and provides more grip. Can’t do either with these. They’re complicated (that means expensive) and would require a good deal of maintenance. How vulnerable are they to small arms? DARPA revealed this concept in 2018. But it’s disappeared since. Why? My guess… Read more »

7F2D8153-9154-42D4-879A-7EF16062A328.jpeg
Last edited 8 days ago by Stu
Pacman27
Pacman27
8 days ago
Reply to  Stu

Hi stu. Yes these are the ones, and whilst I understand everything you have said on complexity there are some counters as well that balance it out. the wheels on boxer are excellent but it’s also a complicated system that needs maintenance there is a push away from air tyres to the rigid tyres with most manufactures on the way. with electrification a hub motor on each wheel may well play into this technology better and offer greater vehicle resilience. cost – can we afford tracks and wheels? We should but don’t seem able to. standardisation, can we make this… Read more »

Stu
Stu
7 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

You’re right, it’s certainly worth exploring the wheels. My doubts stem from a lack of news on those wheels. Since I first saw them, the US have brought in the JLTV and Dragoon Stryker but we haven’t seen these wheels again. I’ve not seen them being tested on those platforms or any other. If anyone could make the economies of scale work, it’s the US Army. Land Rover also played with a track thing for the defender but was a gimmick due to reliability etc. But happy to be proven wrong if you have info on their further development. Regards… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 days ago
Reply to  Stu

Blimey, wasn’t aware of SEP, it looks as if it was probably ahead of it’s time but should be dusted off and revisited. i do know qiniteq and HMT have done work on electric hub motors and also think a 2 smaller commercially available engines (transit van) setup producing electricity with batteries is probably the way to go. what I find fascinating is that from a position of relative strength, we have ended up in the current position. i am also aware the Israelis next merkava they want to be smaller due to lessons learned, with reports of systematic ATW… Read more »

Stu
Stu
7 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Glad you liked SEP. Only told of it myself last week. Love the idea; 2 x means redundancy, smaller commercial engines (cheap to replace/maintain), combine with hybrid etc. Strength to where we are; yep. ‘Good times breed weak men’. Public & politicos preferred spending money on ‘diversity consultants’ and £14B on foreign aid (dance lessons included…) than a little extra for continual improvements & upgrades to our kit. Then you have mismanaged programmes, job creation schemes and wasted cash… there’s no one cause but a systemic issue. Think tanks still have a place. Don’t let Russias lack of infantry support… Read more »

Ian M
Ian M
13 days ago

George, this article is a lazy re-hash of previous lengthy discussions on the fate of the AJAX programme. 11 lines dedicated to the question from Kevan Jones, 3 lines describing “what is CV 90” and then 62 lines of oft repeated parliamentary comment. Whilst no-one can deny the cluster f*ck that is the AJAX programme to date, I have come to expect a higher level of informed reporting from your good self. If you wished to instigate an informed and lively discussion on the pro’s and con’s of CV90 vs AJAX then more, newer detail was needed. As ever, I… Read more »

Ian M
Ian M
13 days ago
Reply to  George Allison

Hi George, let me know how and I will.
cheers
Ian

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
11 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

Bravo. Someone with a different perspective on the potential positives of Ajax against the moan fest.
Would love a read with your insider knowledge.

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

Be fair. We had half a dozen new articles today. You can’t have a large number of heavily researched articles coming out that regularly in a free journal. So we get interesting snapshots of what’s going on, and if they are padded out for less regular readers, where’s the harm?

Ian M
Ian M
12 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Hi Jon, I agree with the sentiment of the article and the criticism was of the “padding” and lack of substance on the CV90. As a regular reader of all of Georges articles regardless of whether they are in my particular sphere of interest (AFV’s, artillery, recce platforms and their associated technologies) I would hope my comments are taken as constructive.
cheers
Ian

Just Me
Just Me
13 days ago

CV90 will be over the General’s dead bodies.

Too many post service non executive Directorships ride on AJAX for it to be culled.

Nicholas
Nicholas
12 days ago

What a mess. A few things spring to mind from personal experience. Firstly the report says The Department’s management of the programme was flawed from the outset as the programme was over-specified and the Department and General Dynamics did not understand the scale of the technical challenge. Its difficult to square that one, when the user (the Department) submits its requirements it has to be detailed but not prescriptive. For example you specify that you want a relatively quiet medium calibre rifle that is also controllable but you are not allowed to say you want a medium calibre rifle with… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
12 days ago

Don’t know why its under review- CV90 works and is in service with multiple nations, yes including a tracked reconnaissance version. whereas Aja is flawed beyond repair and needs putting out of its misery.
Scrap Ajax and stop wasting tax payers money on a product that we all known cannot nor ever will be able too enter service.

johan
johan
12 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Because CV90 lost in a head-to-head in baseline form to Ajax. if CV90 was selected we would be in exactly the same position. once the MOD added the bells and whistles.
all about the wrong people involved with its development for what its role was.

to much responsibility is left with top brass, who most have never done it, just played at it. and think they know what they are doing. you may be able to pull a trigger doesn’t mean you can design a gun.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  johan

I’m hoping for some professional to say how to fix the hulls(if they can be) and get someone who knows how to install the equipment to look it over and correct issues. If that doesn’t make it work then it will need dumped.

Ian M
Ian M
12 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I’m sure that GDUK’s design engineers, the MOD and selected external companies are doing just that.

Colin
Colin
11 days ago

Why do we not just buy the AS21 redback The AS21 Redback IFV will be fitted with EOS T-2000 turret, which offers advanced sensing, engagement and command and control capabilities. The maximum combat weight of the turret will be 6,000kg, which includes weapons, missiles, APS, remote weapon station (RWS), and full ammunition load. The turret will be armed with a Bushmaster MK44S 30mm cannon, a MAG 58 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 76mm multi-barrel smoke grenade dischargers and two SPIKE LR2 missile launchers. It can be fitted with EOS R400S Mk2 HD or R150 remote weapon system and Javelin anti-tank guided… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
11 days ago
Reply to  Colin

Hi Colin, the Redback and Lynx are doing battle here in Aus. It’ll be interesting who comes out on top and whether that might have any influence on UK and or US future IFV oo Recce vehicle fleet decisions. There’s also the US BAE MPV that maybe can be updated.

Stu
Stu
9 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I’m leaning Lynx myself & watching the competition.
They used the success of Boxer through the Aussie trials as justification to buy it without formal competition.
I’m quietly hoping (dreaming maybe) that they do the same with Lynx if it comes out on top. Land 400 P3 decision due in Sept(?). Would give UK MoD 3 months to have a quiet chat with Rheinmettal before a “decision” on Ajax.

Stc
Stc
11 days ago

I suspect those in the know will laugh at this, but i read the US turned a f16 into a drone. If the US can do this with a jet why cannot we do something similar with Ajax ? I suspect when the dust settles in Ukraine and the true figures of casualties leaks out drone tanks will eventually be the way to go because to me they are looking like metal coffins.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago
Reply to  Stc

When I worked at RARDE Chertsey’s Unmanned Vheicles Division in 1990/91, I took over the teleoperated Chieftain tank project (Crazy Horse), the largest of our technology demonstators. We also had a teleoperated CVR(T) Stormer (the MARDI project)…and smaller stuff too, some of it fully autonomous.

Ian M
Ian M
7 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I used to look after R/C Eager beavers and JCBs for the EOD guys. Interesting times when they took off down the road by themselves!

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago
Reply to  Stc

The latest Israeli IFV is going to be manned, but if they approach what could be a trap, the crew get out & control the vehicle remotely, so it can go on ahead into danger without risking lives.

nonsense
nonsense
10 days ago

There was a time when the British were called limey.

It happened because it did not fit the sentiments of the time, but the nickname “limey” can be seen today to mean wisdom that is free from the old-fashioned ignorance.

Britain almost always led the world in inventing timeless technology.

People claim to drink lime and water because they are not sure what the future is, and they do not know what the future is .

The limitation of drone reconnaissance that some people claim is the limitation of their ignorance.

Paul.P
Paul.P
9 days ago

The idea of a tracked Boxer looks like an ARTEC response to the army’s saying that tracks are a must have requirement, and wheeled Boxer is unacceptable.
If Ajax passes muster then both CV90 and Lynx would work for Warrior replacement. Buy on price and UK industry / jobs.
If Ajax fails then choose a single type for both jobs.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Tracked Boxer will be very expensive. What was wrong with the very much cheaper option of upgrading Warrior (WCSP)?

Paul.P
Paul.P
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Agree. Nothing wrong with re-instating WCSP so far as I can see except the embarrassment of admitting you cancelled the wrong program 😉

Ian
Ian
9 days ago

Hands up if we fucked up with Ajax…

Ian
Ian
9 days ago

Let’s hope we don’t fuck up with Tempest

Ron
Ron
9 days ago

It is getting to the point where the MoD must do something, either sort AJAX out or bin it and get for example the CV-90 MkIV. It is still a UK company, with the numbers needed it could be built here in the UK and the CV-90 has lots of variants from the pure APC to 20mm gun/30mm/40mm/105mm/120mm, mortar carrier, command and control/ engineering/electronic warfare, anti tank missile carrier the list goes on. They could become the two light brigades to the one Challenger 3 heavy brigade with their 150+ MBTs. Combine the CV-90s with the M5 UGV with mission… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Interesting points Ron. If Ajax is scrapped and I am pessimistic of success for the programme, then all CVR(T)s need to be replaced by something else that is preferably tracked, with low signature and footprint, and the recce variant to have as much sensor, data fusion and networked capability as Ajax would have done. CV90 may well fit the bill and be made by a British company in the UK to keep those politicians happy. You seem to suggest that CV90 should not just replace the CVR(T) family, but should fully outfit the light brigades, ie to equip the infantry… Read more »

Ron
Ron
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi Graham, it looks like I did not explain myself correctly, my mistake so if I may I will try again. As much as I would like to see the British Army go back to 1980s numbers that will not happen. So I propose a three fighting Division Army, each Division with the equipment suport elements and the numbers needed for their task. A Heavy Division A Light Division Rapid Reaction Division Each Division should have a reserve Brigade in manpower and equipment (TA type reserve) For the Heavy Division I am suggesting that the CV-90 MkIV should if we… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Hi Ron, thanks for this. I was certainly not advocating returning to Cold War levels of manpower, just pointing out graphically how low our numbers have become. I like the idea of a three division warfighting army. I would favour the term ‘medium brigade’ for a brigade with Boxer (36.5 – 38.5 tonne at combat load-out). Not sure why the army would supplant RM Commandos as Sea Assault troops? Could they deploy rapidly as sea deployment is quite slow. I would be happy with GA aircraft taking out second echelon armour that would otherwise be out of range of army… Read more »

Ron
Ron
6 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi Graham, I understand the thinking of you being in favour of the term ‘medium brigade’ but I think you understand the concept. As for going back to Cold War levels of manning, no that ifs from me. I wish we could have a 1(Br)Corp plus two divisions for world wide deployment taking us back to six fighting divisions. That however would be wishful thinking and pie in the sky. So I have tried to find a soultion that is finacialy realistic whilst giving the UK some real flexibility and hitting power. As for the Army having a Sea Assault… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Very interesting. I have never heard the RM Commandos being described as sneaky – their operations, whether on the streets in NI (back in the day), in the Falklands conflict, or in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, were in the full glare of the world’s media.
Perhaps they should be upgraded to be more like the USMC?

Ian M
Ian M
7 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

…..”and the recce variant to have as much sensor, data fusion and networked capability as Ajax would have done has.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
6 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

My Freudian slip is showing. I don’t really expect the Ajax programme to survive.

Chris
Chris
9 days ago

Harking back to WW2 I maybe wrong but didn’t the British Army used to use tanks in the recce role eg. M3/M5 Stuarts. The KF51 Panther (the name might have to be changed) would be an excellent choice. Heavy firepower if discovered, high survivability for the crew (integrated smoke/hard kill/anti air RC Machine Gun) and excellent cross country performance. Integrated drones would allow for wide area recce without exposing the crew and I’m sure the turret would be able to accept a mast sight to allow the vehicle to stay in defilade. The fourth crewman who is optional as there… Read more »

Ron
Ron
8 days ago
Reply to  Chris

Chris, from what I have seen of the KF51 Panther I like the possibilities. It could be a good replacement of the Challenger.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
7 days ago

Any updates on Ajax? Don’t let the buggers get off the hook! They should be giving the MoD monthly reports until the end of the Year. Hope the MoD can stay tough and move on to something better for the Army.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I want to see a forward timeline published, as part of those monthly reports.