The Ministry of Defence has ruled out purchasing an alternative to Ajax as it “remains committed” to the troubled armoured vehicle.

The information came to light in response to a written question submitted in the House of Commons.

Mark Francois, Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what alternative procurement options he has for the replacement of the capability envisaged from the Ajax Armoured Vehicle programme in the event that that programme is cancelled; and if he will make a statement.”

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

“The Ministry of Defence remains committed to Ajax.”

What’s going on with Ajax?

Trials of the British Army’s new Ajax armoured vehicles were recently halted for a second time after concerns were again raised over noise.

The Ministrty of Defence confirmed that following renewed concerns on the impacts of noise, “all Ajax trials have been suspended and will only resume when we are assured that mitigations are fully effective”.

Last month, Defence Minister Jeremy Quin visited the Millbrook Proving Ground where independent testing has been conducted on Ajax. He commented:

“This long-running troubled programme requires ongoing intense work by our industrial partners and ourselves to ensure its delivery. In achieving this, the safety of our personnel will always come first.”

Last month we reported that trials of Ajax armoured vehicles were halted at the end of last year to March this year due to excessive vibration and noise, leaving crews suffering from nausea, swollen joints and tinnitus.

Ajax armoured vehicle suffering ‘serious issues’

General Dynamics UK said at the time that it is working with the Army on the issues.

“Recent trials have confirmed many of the required capabilities across the AJAX Family of Vehicles, including operations across the full range of speed and reverse step obstacle climb. A small number of remaining issues are being reviewed and closed out in partnership with the British Army and Ministry of Defence ahead of Initial Operating Capability.”

The MoD has launched an investigation which is planned to finish at the end of July.

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Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
26 days ago

What sort of mitigation action is open to them I wonder, the programme is often in the news in recent years (rather negatively sadly) but I am yet to read about what is or can be done to mitigate even speculatively let alone solve these issues. Especially concerning considering trials while they confronted the issues were already suspended for so long and I doubt that they were not known of for some time before that too.

Ron5
Ron5
26 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Step 1: the manufacturers. GD UK, have to admit there is a problem. Something they have yet to do.

Steve
Steve
26 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

What isn’t entirely clear is who’s fault it is, the MOD or the manufacturer and from there who is going to pay for the fix. Which probably explains why GD UK are not admitting there is a problem. Plan A denial there is a problem, if plan A fails, blame the other party. It seems unlilely but if GD are found responsible and required to pay the costs of fixing it, then why give up on the program. Too much money has already been invested. If the MOD are found responsible then a cost benefit analysis needs to be undertaken… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Steve
David Steeper
David Steeper
26 days ago
Reply to  Steve

The MoD has never even tried to prove that a failed program was the responsibility of the contractor. When you think how many of them there have been that tells you a lot. No doubt contractors have made mistakes but the MoD seem sure what would happen if the details came out in a court.

Expat
Expat
26 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yep that’s down to the MoD drafting weak contracts.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Expat

…and MoD being on thin ice if they changed the Requirements and the contractor had no hope of modifying the design succesfully, leaving themselves open to counter-claim.

Bringer of facts
Bringer of facts
26 days ago
Reply to  Steve

It is as simple as this, the Army should take the GD engineers out on the trials and demonstrate all the faults …surely these are design and build problems ?… Good engineers would have either anticipated such problems or found them during prototype testing.
Acceptance testing (army trials) is a very late stage in the process to be finding major design flaws … I think the blame lies somewhere with GDs Project management.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago

The GD engineers know the faults – they don’t need the army to tell them in broad terms about NVH and an inability to reverse and climb a tiny step.They know what is what – the issue now is fixing the problem or mitigating it substantially. I have not seen any definitive documents but developing the 26.3t ASCOD into a 38-42t AJAX was massive over-development and is likely to be at the root cause of such sizable NVH problems. Did GD UK do a serious risk reduction exercise on this aspect of the programme? I totally agree that Factory Acceptance… Read more »

Steve
Steve
26 days ago
Reply to  Steve

It seems the posted quote isn’t the full one. They went on to say that they are actively exploring their contingency plans to buy elsewhere. So it seems they are at least a tiny bit worried that the fixes won’t be possible.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve,
The MoD stated the Requirement and the manufacturer then designed and built the vehicle, which doesn’t meet the Requirement. Clearly GD is at fault.
But GD UK could argue against MoD if MoD changed the Requirement and the original design could not then be adapted to work.
Interesting your point about the break clauses – when Cameron came to power he wanted to cancel the second aircraft carrier but was told the break clause agreement would end up in MoD paying more to cancel than to have the second ship!

JOHNT
JOHNT
25 days ago
Reply to  Steve

It could also be a problem with a sub-contractor. I remember reading that Accuracy International had problems early one with their sniper rifles jamming as the sub-contractor didn’t build the firing pins to spec and used cheaper materials.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  JOHNT

I doubt it is a problem with a subbie. This sounds like over-development/over-weighting of an unsuitable hull of fairly old design – and earlier troop trials that were either not exhaustive (unlikely) or where serious faults were not thereafter addressed properly.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
26 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

They may have done that now. We should see it confirmed in minutes from the Defence committee per this,

<<Last week General Dynamics laid out its side of the story in written evidence delivered to the committee. It acknowledged ongoing vibration and noise issues still need fixing but the company said other technical issues have been repaired and claimed much of the media reporting disparaging the vehicle being “without foundation in fact.”>>

from this,
https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2021/07/19/british-committee-wants-to-shake-out-ajaxs-vibration-problems/

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Sure they have: “A small number of remaining issues are being reviewed and closed out”
Fills me with confidence!

Daveyb
Daveyb
25 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

If the issue is the noise generated by the steel tracks, they could use the Soucy “rubber” band tracks. These have been used by Norwegian CV90s on operations in Afghan. The Norwegian CV90s had additional armour fitted so were close to 40t. I remember reading Soucy saying their tracks were good up to 45t, so is that enough for Ajax? Regardless the Norwegians claimed that the band tracks were a massive improvement over the steel ones. Drastically reduced maintenance along with a significantly quieter ride. I have yet to hear if Norway have changed from Steel to band tracks following… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Mitigation measures will be Commercial-in-Confidence. However the issues seem to be fundamental and of long-standing – and not easily, quickly or cheaply fixed.
I wonder if dstl has been involved in helping to sort out the problem?

peter Wait
peter Wait
24 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Changing suspension to hydro-gas and fitting rubber tracks, would be expensive and would depend on hull walls being strong enough to have the mounts welded on. Rubber tracks can reduce vibration by up to 70 percent.

Stuart Crawford
Stuart Crawford
26 days ago

Recent comment elsewhere suggests that Ajax’s problems with noise and vibration were known as early as 2017 but not communicated to senior (2* and above) or government ministers until recently. Heads really should roll if true, but of course they won’t.

Anthony Ryan
Anthony Ryan
26 days ago

Perhaps there are members of a committee who could be stuck in the back of the thing and taken for a run?
Would that help with the decision?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago

Stuart,
MoD procurement staff at SO2 and SO1 level (and civil service equivalents) were clearly not close enough to the company to have missed these problems in gestation. You should not have to wait months/years to find out problems from a company briefing note being delivered to your office.
When I was a PM at ABW (on a low-value ie £70m project) I visited my Prime at least twice a week and picked up on everything right down to office gossip.

Stuart Crawford
Stuart Crawford
25 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Looks like it.

Challenger
Challenger
26 days ago

Am I the only one baffled by how big a mess this has become?

It’s not exactly like an Astute Class SSN which is a very niche capability that only a handful of nations can manage and is reportedly more complicated than the space shuttle!

How hard can it be to obtain the sort of armoured vehicle that dozens and dozens of nations operate without significant issues. Are they trying to reinvent the wheel by endlessly adjusting the requirements and if so why couldn’t the Army just accept an off the shelf 90% solution?

Paul T
Paul T
26 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

Yeah Nail on Head, I’ve always said that the process of trying to reinvent the wheel for a bespoke solution is not always best practice, as you say accept 90% of the Capability for much less cost.

John Clark
John Clark
26 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Absolutely …. Not our way though.

We prefer the 7 point system for pissing money against the wall…..

A, Identify the replacement needed.
B, purchase an existing design.
C, modify the vehicle beyond recognition and build it in the UK.
D, identify all the problems caused by step C and ignore them, until the project has progressed beyond cancellation.
E, Get the tax payer to pay again for step D rectification.
F, Have replacement finally delivered late and ‘massively’ over budget.
G, Get programme directors on the New Year honours list….

I think I’ve covered it all…

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I agree that it looks like we often do it that way.

We used not to – we had some very good families of AFVs in the past, designed from scratch by experienced designers then built – by one of 5 UK specialist companies – and with great support from RARDE.

Such vehicles, in general, did not take long to come into service, were reasonable VfM, had great longevity and were popular with crews and maintainers.

Pacman27
Pacman27
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

TD has done some very good articles in the past on common vehicle fleets.

Really, we should have one factory knocking out boxers and HGV’s like the Australians (HX3’s and HMT in our case) and another doing tracked vehicles, (perhaps run by JCB our nations expert in tracked vehicles).

Graham
Graham
20 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Funny how JCB is now referenced as the UK tracked vehicles expert. It used to be Alvis, GKN, VSEL, RO and Vickers Defence Systems!

Pacman27
Pacman27
22 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Missed 2 points John.

Reduce order as cost per unit is now 2-3 times more than initial estimate.

Hail finished product as world class, despite knowing it is not even close…

Ron5
Ron5
26 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

1. The MoD/Treasury operated under an “anyone but Bae” unwritten rule.

2. The contract was given to a company with zero experience in armoured vehicles – General Dynamics UK

3. A production contract was signed before said company had demonstrated their capability due to political pressure from Cameron who wanted a big announcement for a NATO meeting held in the UK after his disastrous 2010 defence review which slashed UK defence spending

John Clark
John Clark
26 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

That can’t be right Ron, surely slippy snake oil salesman Cameron, wouldn’t do that to the tax payer…..🤣

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

General Dynamics Land Systems was/is an experienced AFV company but GD UK was a spin-off, some say set up in an old vacuum cleaner factory. Did they hire the old staff, I wonder?

peter Wait
peter Wait
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

They are not really experienced anyone can buy a company doesn’t mean they are good at running it. They bought the Austrian/ Spanish company and Abrams manufacturing from Chrysler. This was a few years ago, many designers would have retired or left with these mergers. Big Corporate companies focus on profit and shareholders, have too many layers of managers and decisions are more led by accountants than people of vision. Hedge funds for example often ruin companies stripping asserts and selling off parts for a quick buck !

Mike O
Mike O
25 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

No you are definitely not the only one baffled. Entire generations of Army, MOD and political leadership have failed. Failed to the point where the failure is normal and not a national scandal. I really want to see the media and backbenchers hammer the government on this until something changes.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Mike O

Mike, you don’t blame the company that designed and built a vehicle that did not comply with the MoD Requirement?

Mike O
Mike O
25 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

They are also on the list 🙂!

5h6muc.jpg
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

Some AFVs are very complex, in particular a recce/strike vehicle, but nothing like as complex as an Astute.
We should have bought off the shelf, or adapted something that could easily be adapted, like a CV90, Bradley M3 or Warrior.

BobA
BobA
25 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Or an ASCOD  😀 

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  BobA

Very good! It seems that the only option for development into SV other than ASCOD was CV90 – why only one other option? …and the CV90 option was seemingly binned on political grounds before serious military/technical consideration.

It was clearly all going to fail, from there on.

Also what was the background of GD UK’s design, manufacture, PM and QA people? – Were they all AFV specialists? Were any?

Peter S
Peter S
26 days ago

Some of the problems reported are with the Ajax variant, including low top speed and inability to fire on the move because of vibration. Other issues, excessive noise and inability to reverse over >8 inch elevation, suggest there are more fundamental failings in the design. Given how long this programme has been running, why should anyone think there is a quick and simple mitigation solution? If there were, it would have been put in place long before now. If there is any effective mitigation possible, it would almost certainly need a lot more money. GD have performed so poorly that… Read more »

Expat
Expat
26 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Sounds like JCB should move into armour vehicles at least we’d have confidence they could design something to get over a 8″ obstacle.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Peter, I agree with much of what you say, but do you not think the army needs a recce vehicle to replace 50-year old Scimitars?
The strike role, which has been added on to the recce role, is less clear to me – I presume this means defeating sub-MBT opposition by a mobile, protected, direct fire weapon system.

Meirion X
Meirion X
25 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

We may need to have a look of what South Korea have got in that range of vehicle?

Last edited 25 days ago by Meirion X
Peter S
Peter S
23 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Interesting article on the RUSI website. It provides more detail of the range of problems being encountered. It seems the noise issue arises from Bowman headsets picking up and amplifying engine noise. Should be fixable. The vibration issue seems to arise partly from poor quality control in the basic construction( some shocking details) which may not apply to all vehicles so inconsistent is the manufacturing quality. The author then goes on to ask whether Ajax is even needed, with the reconnaissance role capable of being carried out by drones or helicopter s supplemented by lighter vehicles like Jackal or even… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes
20 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I suspect the Army is not without blame here. The requirement was for a light tracked armoured recon vehicle to replace CVRT, not a particularly challenging assignment, though the network-centric capability and 40mm CTA have clearly added cost and issues. At the same time though, the Army was pushing relentlessly down its FRES path, questing for a magic medium armour solution that would supersede most of the current AFV fleet. The CVRT/Ajax changed from a light recce vehicle to a heavily armoured fire support vehicle that could equip the ‘Strike’ brigades, basically FRES by any other name. I gather that… Read more »

Graham
Graham
20 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

You have hit all the nails on all of the heads. There was such emphasis on giant programmes, FLAV, FFLAV, FRES, that could not be managed and cost so much that they were bound to be cancelled, cut back or replaced by another (over ambitious) programme. So much time, money and effort wasted. Multi-role adds cost and complexity ànd it doesn’t always work out. I fear Ajax is too big to fail, it is awkward that the army has taken delivery of a good number of vehicles which gives GD some negotiating points, and that the best fix solution will… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
26 days ago

“The Ministry of Defence remains committed to Ajax”

In other words, too big to fail. Be prepared for more taxpayer money being poured down the rat hole.

Tony Smith
Tony Smith
26 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

“The Ministry of Defense should be committed”… Just looked at photographs of the Ajax with the additional protection skirts and you can almost see how its maneuverability is compromised….especially going up a kerb in reverse!

Peter S
Peter S
26 days ago
Reply to  Tony Smith

The old saying ” if it looks right it probably is” comes to mind. Ajax just looks wrong. When you see one alongside a Challenger its hull is about the same size. Far too big and heavy for a reconnaissance vehicle. £3.5b spent on it to date!

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
26 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Perhaps but there will have to be serious back peddling by Ben Wallace if it happens soon.

“It’s a troubled program, no one’s hiding that … And we’ve got to fix it. We’ve got to get to the bottom of the problems with it. We, both General Dynamics and the army, have determined they’re going to have to put this right,” he said. “It is a firm contract; the price is a firm price. We’ve already withheld significant amounts of money … It has to be fixed,” he said.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
26 days ago

‘Committed’ … does that mean we’ve already forked out oodles of money, so are at the point of no return?

Paul.P
Paul.P
26 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

if you are in a hole the first thing to do is stop digging.

David Steeper
David Steeper
26 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Wise words never heard in the MoD.

Ian M
Ian M
26 days ago

Once again the red top reader ‘experts’ let loose.

David Hiles
David Hiles
26 days ago

Do they remain committed because it is an amazing piece of kit representing excellent value for money or because there is no way out of the contract

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  David Hiles

There is probably no (cheap) way out of the contract or MoD getting reimbursed several £Bn.
There is clearly no Plan B to buy something else – and no time to do so – Scimitars are 50 years old (1960s design) and not fit for purpose, so must be replaced in the next, say, 2-5 years.

Positroll
Positroll
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Well, there is this scouting option:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeRgT_OFH7I
Rheinmetall might be able to build a couple hundred of those rather quickly …

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
23 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

Great video. The original Wiesl came out years ago but this is a very different beast. I like that it is small and agile and seems to have a bunch of good sensors, dispalys, screens and data links.

MoD should have considered many options for Scimitar replacement, not just ASCOD and CV90 (and rather cursorily binning CV90). They should have looked at Wiesl, and converting Warrior, adapting Bradley CFV etc etc.
When I reviewed options for Cent BARV replacement, we looked at about 15 options, ranging from the strange and the unoriginal to the truly ground-breaking.

Mark Forsyth
Mark Forsyth
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Wiesel was produced for the German airborne forces with the requirements that it fitted in the back of a helicopter. Not at all suitable for the perceived recce role. The problems began with the demise of the Tracer project in the early 2000’s. When the Yanks went to Stryker brigades, the only wheeled vehicle in the mix at the time was MRAV, which was going to be medium along with ABSV which never made it off the drawing board.

Positroll
Positroll
21 days ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

“Not at all suitable for the perceived recce role.” What’s that specific role? And can Ajax meet it? If Ajax cant, because it’s shaking to hell, one needs an alternative. The DW on its own might not do all the UK MoD was hoping for with Ajax. However, a mixed recce capability of (long ranged) Boxer CRV* and short ranged but airtransportable** and way less conspicious DWs might actually be able to do the scouting a lot better than Ajax would have done. Wiesel can get through woods an Ajx would get stuck in. It can hide in a civilian… Read more »

Graham
Graham
20 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

I never understood why future recce has to be done in a large APC-size vehicle, unless the RAC wants to pack the back with a lot of guys staring at screens. Recce should be done by stealth in small, light agile vehicles. So I agree we should have looked at light platforms such as modern Wiesl and drones etc.
Strike is offensive fighting and a very different activity, needing a very different vehicle, which could be small like Striker was or larger ie of Warrior, Boxer, Ajax size.

Positroll
Positroll
18 days ago
Reply to  Graham

If you really want to do recce by fire,Id recommend a Centauro II.
Or maybe a Centauro II turret on a modified Boxer chassis …

Graham
Graham
20 days ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

I think the one legacy of Tracer was that US officers and engineers persuaded us Brits of the need for a large, heavy, complex, expensive recce vehicle, and to conduct recce by fighting. We had previously conducted recce by stealth in small, light, agile vehicles – from Land Rover to Ferret to Fox to Scimitar and Scorpion. Ajax is a behemoth. Its physical size must surely have led to its capacity to cover Strike as well. Thus launching us down the multirole route. Previous mishandled programmes left issues too. That the Warrior programme was scaled back and did not replace… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Graham
Paul.P
Paul.P
26 days ago

This sounds like the football club where the Directors have complete confidence in the Manager the week before he gets the sack.
Cancelling the Warrior upgrade means we will be selling a load of CT40 cannons. Might as well go the whole hog. Why not scrap Ajax, let Scimitar roll and replace with a Boxer variant.

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

Is Boxer a good recce vehicle? Large, tall, heavy, no cannon on standard vehicle, no tracks (therefore may get bogged in whilst in a forward location).

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

Hi Graham, I confess I’m qualified to say. Looks like the Australians think they can make it work…

http://fighting-vehicles.com/boxer-combat-reconnaissance-vehicle/

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

Interesting. I have lost some faith in the Aussies when they selected Ajax for a trial for a MIV, then binned it on the grounds that it could not carry enough dismounts (I could have told them that!). But Boxer looks good in the recce role in the company video – it goes really fast on flat, level, dry, graded tracks! …and even has a cannon in a Lance turret. But will it avoid being bogged in wet, muddy, hilly conditions – a recce vehicle, miles from support, needs to be very resistant to bogging in or to be able… Read more »

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

Ooops. I meant to say I’m not qualified. The German army brought some Boxers over to exercise with us on Salisbury plain in 2017; before and part of the Boxer decision making process I would think.

Positroll
Positroll
25 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The recce version baught by the Aussies (CRV) has a 30mm cannon and spike launchers. Germany is considering getting a few of them, too. Depends on where you want to use them. It goes >100km /h, is reasonably silent and very hard to pick up on thermals due to decoupled, cooled exterior plates. So for eg Eastern European plains and woods, its quite usefull. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBWTFiS535k (note that the exhaust has been heavily reworked since the Ao version, so it doesnt create those dustclouds anymore …. In some circumstances you might want something smaller, though. Maybe a scout version of the… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
24 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

Good points but I hear Boxers bog in easily in glutinous mud. Not good for a recce vehicle very far ahead of support, except if it can be quickly unbogged by its paired vehicle.

Positroll
Positroll
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Well, you could try to bring back the Luchs. And there is always the MAN option .. ;).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N1mY0IYwmA

Positroll
Positroll
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

re getting vehicles unbogged quickly … the BW is testing a new system for that purpose …
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54hSvCZrftg

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

Looks like a tow rope to me! We have used kinetic energy tow ropes for at least 30 years for recce vehicles.

Positroll
Positroll
20 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The Boxer is rather good in mud – for a wheeled vehicle of its weight class. Problem is, it weighs >30t … Whereas the Luchs only weighed 19 tons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4hpanzer_Luchs So I wonder how difficult it would be for RM to design a Luchs like vehicle on the basis of the Boxer basic chassis (without the modular stuff), using only off the shelf components and trimming weight whereever possible. . One could eg put in the light weight turret planned for the LuWa (27mm gun, 2 missiles) to save quite some weight compared to a 30mm turret, but still be… Read more »

Positroll
Positroll
19 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

Or just get the French Jaguar …

Graham Bradley
Graham Bradley
26 days ago

Cancel and buy CV90 (and keep the Bofors 40mm!)

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham Bradley

..and task MoD lawyers to recover the wasted £billions.

Positroll
Positroll
26 days ago

“As of July 1 production and deliveries has seen the build of 271 armored hulls and 60 turrets. All six variants are in full production and 116 vehicles have been fully built and are delivered, or in the handover process,” the General Dynamics document said. “All the 25 vehicles to meet IOC fleet have already been delivered and been accepted by the British Army, including 12 Ajax variants equipped with the 40mm cannon, which were successfully live fired by the British Army as part of the acceptance process.” https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2021/07/19/british-committee-wants-to-shake-out-ajaxs-vibration-problems/ Can someone please explain to me how on earth it is… Read more »

Steve
Steve
26 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

It’s a good question, but one we probably will never know the answer to. I suspect someone has been trying to cover up their mistakes and planned on keeping it quiet and just accepting an unsuitable platform. The whole trying to fix the issues story is likely been forced on them after the issues were leaked.

farouk
farouk
26 days ago

It never fails to amaze me , how the MOD messes up so often in so many things. I only have to look at Watchkeeper and the Phoenix (The artillery UAV before it) to see how wasting money has become an art form at the ministry of Defence.

expat
expat
25 days ago
Reply to  farouk

To be honest there’s buckets of cash wasted else where but MoD is a far easier target than other departments.

Positroll
Positroll
25 days ago

So much for “ruling out” an alternative:

Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin insisted the military, officials and contractor General Dynamics were all committed to making the Ajax vehicle a success.
But he told MPs “we can’t be 100% certain that can be achieved” and military commanders are already working on contingency plans in case the armoured vehicles cannot be used.

https://www.enfieldindependent.co.uk/news/national/19456724.minister-cannot-100-certain-ajax-light-tank-project-can-saved/

Andrew D
Andrew D
25 days ago

Can’t throw billions at this ,MOD must get this sorted or look over seas .😕

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
24 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

MoD has already thrown billions at this project.
In a sense we did look overseas – General Dynamics is a US company.

Glynn
Glynn
25 days ago

How is it that the UK seems incapable of equipping our military with equipment that works? We stumble along for decade after decade never seeming to learn lessons…Duff SA 81 (now largely fixed thanks to H&K) duff Nimrod programme, duff Type 45’s, duff Ajax, way over-priced and buggy F35’s. Back at the Falkland’s we had much hyped shipboard and land based air defence systems which failed more often than not when needed.. Old Iron bombs and the odd Exocet nearly put paid to a large proportion of our fleet in place. Looks like nothing has changed. Or am I completely… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
24 days ago
Reply to  Glynn

Well there have been cultural issues which work against effective decision making. I have seen posted the opinion that the MOD works on the basis of ‘any supplier except BAE’. If true this would be an indictment of our national culture. No other nation on earth would adopt a systemic antipathy towards its major company; which does very well in the US whose defence companies we are keen to invite to the UK. Is the reason we didn’t buy CV90 because it is largely BAE product? The other major cultural issue we have is our addiction to Gold Plated custom… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
25 days ago

The original Ascod was 28tons. This has gone up to mid thirty tons on Ajax & with the add on kit, over 40 tons. I suspect that if Ajax went on a diet & got back to 28tons or there abouts, most of its problems would be solved.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
24 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Probably true. I wonder if they weighted out 28t ASCOD to 42 tons using deadweights as a first step to learn some lessons? I doubt it.

Ian M
Ian M
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

They did

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
23 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

So why didn’t they immediately find the vibration problem?

Ian M
Ian M
23 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Because the platform met requirements.

John Hartley
John Hartley
22 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

This will make the lawyers rich. The vibration problem does not break the law, but it is deeply uncomfortable for the crew.

Ian M
Ian M
21 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

As is travelling in any AFV. Warrior was awful, 432/Bulldog like being in a spin dryer.

Rob N
Rob N
24 days ago

If you talk mitigation you know you are being sold a dog… they should ditch it and buy something proven off the shelf.

This project will suck up money and provide an inferior product.

John Hartley
John Hartley
24 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

After the 1998 SDR, it was thought the New Labour government would buy some new Warrior 2000. The old Warrior would then cascade down to secondary units. That never happened (Gordon would not spend the money). So troops died in Land Rovers & Pinzgauers. Many bad headlines. So MoD go from one extreme to the other i.e. too light & unarmoured to too heavy & undeployable.

Rob N
Rob N
23 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

They should just call time on this like they did with Nimrod mk4 and warrior. I am sure there are many platforms that can fill this role that we could just buy.

It sounds to me like MoD are persisting to avoid criticism and to keep the manufacturer on side.

John Hartley
John Hartley
22 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

Part of me thinks, we should get a 2nd hand interim solution. Perhaps see if the US has any surplus M1117 the UK could buy cheap? MRAP with a 40mm grenade launcher+.50 machine gun in turret, 13-15 tons, deployable. If the UK had national will, we should have kept developing the Scorpion/Stormer family. Scorpion 8 tons, grew to 12 ton Stormer. A new Super Stormer could have a V shape, anti IED/Mine hull & better armour, perhaps up to 16 ton combat weight? Otherwise, the Italian Dardo was built to survive the modern battlefield & is 23 tons, or 26… Read more »

Graham
Graham
24 days ago
Graham
Graham
24 days ago
Reply to  Graham
Paul.P
Paul.P
24 days ago

Does the Ares APC suffer the same vibration issues?
If the ASCOD parent does not have this problem is it likely that the problem caused by the CT40 turret?
If you could replace the turret with say the FLW-500 RWS mounting the Apache 30mm chain gun would it give you an acceptable vibration free reconnaissance vehicle?
Could you put the same FLW-500 on the Boxer APCs to create an acceptable IFV to replace Warrior?
Just asking….

Jacko
Jacko
23 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Isn’t it the Ares that the HCR have got doing these trails?

Paul.P
Paul.P
23 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

Good question. I don’t know. But most of the press reports refer to vibration issues with the army’s new ‘tank’ , shorthand for the Ajax turreted version.
That’s the reason I ask the question. If Ares is affected as well then we have an even more serious problem.

Jacko
Jacko
23 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Oh dear!
https://www.army.mod.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/07/first-ares-armoured-vehicles-delivered-to-the-army/
mind you to some of these ‘defence’ journos anything with track’s is a tank😀

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
22 days ago

This is worse than I thought read RUSI’s report, the hulls of these AFVs are fabricated and machined to a very poor standard in a factory in Spain. This appears to be at the root of the vibration problems. I would say at this point abandon and procure something else. OR Get these Hull redesigned and remanufactured by a more reliable company.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/british-armys-greek-tragedy

Pacman27
Pacman27
22 days ago

I have to say that the more information that becomes available on the vehicles the worse it gets. Quality on 100-200 units is unacceptable with some units sides not even perpendicular to one another is simply incredible in any age… If the MOD do accept these into service I fear that it is leaving itself open to large scale future claims from personnel that it will almost certainly have to pay and crown protection will not apply. What an absolute state of affairs.. perhaps it’s no bad thing we left the boxer programme if this is what happens. Perhaps the… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
22 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I commented on this yesterday in reply to an older post. The RUSI article actually shocked me with some of the details. The big question now is whether the entire design is flawed beyond rescue or only some of the vehicles because of shoddy manufacturing. It beggars belief that this is happening more than 10 years after the project started.
Since we need an IFV more than a reconnaissance vehicle, the short term answer is to extend Warriors service life. Ordering a new vehicle to replace Ajax is unthinkable after £3+b has been spent.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

The new IFV is to be Boxer as Warrior upgrade, WCSP, was cancelled as a Defence cut, although Warrior will continue for a time in that role, unmodernised.

You relegate recce vehicle replacement however Scimitars are 50 years old, much older than Warrion IFVs.

Peter S
Peter S
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Sorry but I’m not relegating the reconnaissance role. The RUSI article points out alternative ways of carrying out this role- drones ,helicopters augmented by Jackal or even Boxer. At present, Boxer doesn’t have an IFV variant in the mix, it’s still mainly an APC. The Warrior upgrade was cancelled,not because of the weaknesses of the vehicle itself but the problems caused by the CTA turret. Had the project gone to the manufacturing stage, Warrior would have been in service for another 20 years. In the absence of Ajax, keeping Warrior for longer might be the most realistic and affordable option.… Read more »

Positroll
Positroll
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

“At present, Boxer doesn’t have an IFV variant in the mix” The current UK Boxers dont. Other countries’ do. The Lithuanians have the Vilkas.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udyVmJuyC74 The Aussies have their CRV with a 30mm on top (close enough). The Germans are currently trying to decide whether to get the CRV’s Lance 2.0 turret or a PuBo (Boxer IFV with Puma turret). https://soldat-und-technik.de/2020/06/mobilitaet/21344/jaeger-erhalten-kampfboxer/ Slovenia is going to get yet another IFV version, similar to but not identical to the Lithuanian one https://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/node/50759 One of these options should work for you Brits. Build the chassis and most of the module locally in GB,… Read more »

Positroll
Positroll
15 days ago
Reply to  Positroll
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

I am amazed that we are only hearing now about fundamental build errors in the Spanish Hull fabrication factory, and that GD new of vibration problems 10 years ago. This vehicle cannot be fixed unless the Spanish factory is sorted out by senior GD US or GD UK management and then rebuild all the hulls.

On a different matter, I am surprised that the author thought the army was losing armoured infantry. He clearly did not know the army is getting more Boxers in the wake of abandoning Warrior WCSP.

Peter S
Peter S
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

At present Boxer will not be an IFV but rather an APC. MOD spokesman has confirmed this. That I think is what the RUSI article meant.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
21 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Thanks Peter, I had not heard that statement. Interesting. So the infantry go from a APC (FV432) to the much better IFV/MICV (Warrior) and back to an APC (meaning Boxer with no main weapon).
Talk about turning back the clock. I bet the Infantry are furious at losing one cannon per section. There are also some question marks about Boxers ability to motor through glutionous mud – tracks are better?

Pacman27
Pacman27
21 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

I think we can cancel the vehicle and reuse most of the big ticket items, including the engines which are the same as the boxers.

ultimately this is a health and safety issue and I have very little confidence in the MOD to put this right, as they know that if ordered to use this kit people will…

in my opinion it’s now an indefensible position to continue without a full independent approval sign off.

what happens in 10 years time when crew start exhibiting health issues as a result of these vehicles, truly shocking.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

You say that it is no bad thing we left the Boxer programme albeit it was a different vehicle by different manufacturer in a different era, but then favour Boxer. Confusing, perhaps?
It is quite a big ask to soldier on with mid 80s era Warrior for another 10 years – perhaps it needs an upgrade first!
Are you advocating a Boxer variant to replace Scimitar? I wish we were back to small, agile light tracked recce vehicles, not behemoths.

Pacman27
Pacman27
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Perhaps our leaving the boxer programme created a better vehicle. Our track record is pretty poor after all. warrior has had a power plant upgrade and is probably ok for the next 10 years, my preference is an unarmed all boxer force with at least 1k units until we can get next Gen tank tech. with a 75k strong army realistically the most we can hope for is 3 armoured and 3 strike brigades and we need to do away with light forces (although all infantry are really light and it is the vehicles that gives them the additional capability).… Read more »

Mark Forsyth
Mark Forsyth
21 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Boxer is only as good as it is, because originally the Brits, including Alvis were very insistent on have reliability trials and definitive availability and maintainability requirements. The error came in leaving the programme in the mid 2000’s.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
21 days ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

We left the Boxer programme originally when it became manifestly clear that it would not be C-130 transportable, which was a stated requirment at the time.

I don’t think it is only Brits that want to state availability and maintainability criteria or to insist on reliability trials.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
21 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

The UK joined the Boxer programme (originally) in 1996 and left in July 2003, mainly because Boxer was clearly not C-130 transportable but also because MoD wanted to concentrate on the broader FRES programme. I don’t think our AFV development or procurement history was poor in the pre-2003 era, in fact it was rather successful; I can’t think of any disastrous programmes, although a very few (multi-national SP70, national MBT-80) were cancelled for sound reasons. Are you sure WR has had a powerplant upgrade? I have no info on that. The only upgrades I can recall WR ever had was… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
20 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

typo should read up armed boxer preferably with the CTA’s we have already purchased and some ATW’s. Just like the Ajax order the Boxer order really needs to start with a really good combat version and then move back into support vehicles. at the end of the day there is a lot more choice for support vehicles and in a 75k army each front line vehicle needs to be able to lay down a load of fire, be able to protect itself and act as an ISR asset. this is just the reality of a smaller more mobile force. Vehicles… Read more »

Positroll
Positroll
17 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Well, the French just put their Jaguar turret on a VBCI for the Greek army competition.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM-FlrgjGgI
Should work with Boxer, too.

Positroll
Positroll
15 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

And here’s a version with a 50mm gun …
https://twitter.com/nicholadrummond/status/1421059719461015554

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
21 days ago

I know I have bored you all in the past with this point, but I really think some sort of new UK National agency that was in control of looking after strategic assets and capabilities, was put in place. For example ‘armoured fighting vehicles’ (MBTs, APVs etc.) would be a strategic capability, and a small team of designers and production assets maintained, to keep an eye on needs and make sure UK armed forces had appropriate kit without wasting £billions. Fire up an old Vickers facility or two, grab some second-hand-kit in the meantime as a stop-gap, and make sure… Read more »

George Parker
George Parker
20 days ago

The BAE CV90 sales team must be laughing like cracked beetles.

Cripes
Cripes
19 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Seems to me that, with only 5 combat brigades, the army needs to get a grip on its future roles and vehicles. Our primary NATO role calls for an armoured infantry division of 3 heavy brigades and that is really nowhere near enough. We are currently reduced to 2. They need to be all-tracked AFVs, wheeled vehicles will not be much use off-road in the mud and snow of an Eastern European winter. We are upgrading Challenger, which will be good for years to come. Warrior needs a mid-life update and it too will be fine for the next decade.… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
12 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

I very much like your reply. I had not thought that the British Army had a primary NATO role, especially since the end of the Cold War in 1991, but just maintained a full spectrum of capability to enable deployment to a variety of operations. In the past 10 years the NATO commitment was to ISAF, Afghanistan – and we sent troops with light/medium equipment, mainly wheeled Protected Mobility vehicles. I had not heard that NATO exect us to field a division of 3 armoured/armoured infantry brigades, just that until recently we did have that structure. We have given up… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
12 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

George, thats a new expression on me! I guess it means they are laughing in a Schadenfreunde way.
Interesting that BAE over time, essentially swept up all 5 past UK AFV manufacturers (GKN, VSEL, RO plc, Alvis, Vickers Defence Systems) so had all the IP/expertise to turn CV90 into a great British Army vehicle, whereas GD UK was a brand new company that had never made anything before, although some say the staff used to make vacuum cleaners (sounds too mad to be true).