Hysteria that the Ajax Fighting Vehicle fleet will be Spanish built is misleading as the majority of the work is being carried out by British firms.
As the programme stands today, 100 of the new vehicles will be fully manufactured and assembled in Spain. The hulls of the other 489 will be shipped to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales for completion.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson highlighted UK wide involvement in the programme:
“The UK government is determined to see as many MOD projects designed, built and manufactured here in the UK. The AJAX programme alone is sustaining 2,800 jobs across the country at more than 210 companies across the UK supply chain.
The manufacturing and Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) processes for AJAX have been agreed with GDUK, the prime contractor, to ensure that the British Army receives the capability it deserves.
An extensive UK supply chain is involved in the AIT activity at Merthyr Tydfil, including Lockheed Martin UK who are delivering a world-leading turret for the Ajax variant, providing significant improvements in combat capability, survivability and operational effectiveness for British soldiers, and Thales, based in Glasgow, who will be providing the Primary and Secondary Sights for AJAX.”
With regards to the steel, the government said:
“The steel sourced for AJAX so far is a form of specialist steel, which UK manufacturers were not able to provide. However, there remains a competition to be completed for the fabrication of modular armour for AJAX, which UK manufacturers will have every opportunity to bid for.”
In addition, Cook Defence Systems has won a £30m contract to supply parts for a new fleet of British Army fighting vehicles. The firm is part of the Sheffield-based William Cook Group and will supply the track system for Ajax.
The programme will sustain nearly 1,300 jobs across the UK and while it is regrettable that it will not be 100% UK built, it should be noted that 100% indigenous platforms are virtually non-existent around the world and doing it this way gets us these sorely needed vehicles quicker and cheaper.