No good news: British Ajax’s trials could drag on until 2025
LONDON ($1=0.83 GBP) — London remains hopeful that General Dynamics UK will solve the problem of the Ajax armored fighting vehicle. 589 Ajax platforms are to enter service with the British Army. Introduced as a prototype in 2015, for the seventh year in a row, there has been almost no progress in fixing known problems. At the same time, billions of pounds have already been spent by British taxpayers who deserve an answer.
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The latest news is not good either. At a time when the schedule for next year is being updated, a worrying fact became known. Ajax faces trials to be carried out by members of Britain’s military. These tests should show whether the manufacturer company has solved the problem of noise and vibration in the vehicle. However, it appears that the reliability growth trials, which are due to start in January 2023, could continue until the first half of 2025.
British politicians cannot give a clear answer. The next 12-month period is until the end of 2023. Worryingly, for 2023, there is still no real timetable for when General Dynamics UK’s product will enter service. This is clear from a written response to the British Parliament sent on December 21. Thus, ministers cannot present a realistic program.
26 Ajax units are currently in service with the British Army. However, they are not operationally capable. They are used by soldiers for training. Government and manufacturer blame each other. According to politicians in London, General Dynamics UK has never been able to understand the importance and complexity of the program.
The importance of program is a key to national security. The processes are interconnected. So far, the British have paid £5.5 billion for 26 Ajax units. At the same time, London has to invest additional contingency funds from the defense budget to maintain the 35-year-old Warrior armored vehicles in service, which are due to be replaced by Ajax.
Ajax was ordered in 2014. The manufacturer and the government agreed on the price – 3.5 billion British pounds, which, as you can see, has long been exceeded. £500 million of the £3.5 billion was paid for prototype development alone.
Almost good news arrived this October when Ajax’s trial program resumed. But the government has again dashed the hopes of the British military, again stressing in a report that “vibration and noise” are at the root of all this delay.
Currently, 143 armored fighting vehicles have been built in the hangars of General Dynamics UK. As we wrote earlier, only 26 of them have been completed. Also, General Dynamics UK has built only 324 corps.
Despite the gray future of the Ajax program for the British army, the fighting machine is, in principle, a rather ambitious project. However, Ajax could significantly increase the effectiveness and combat capability of the British ground forces, if realized of course.
Otherwise, Ajax is a 38-ton “monster” with the ability to reach 42 tons, depending on modifications and armaments. It is powered by MTU Friedrichshafen 600 kW [800 bhp] V8 engine and RENK 6 speed HSWL 256B transmission. The maximum speed that Ajax develops is 70 km/h. The main armament consists of a CT40 40 mm gun developed jointly by BAE Systems and Nexter. The L94A1 coaxial 7.62 mm chain gun Kongsberg Protector Remote Weapon Station is also located on the turret. The vehicle is driven by a crew of 3 soldiers and will be able to transport an additional seven.
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