UK’s troubled Ajax combat machine appeared on a training exercise

In a recent military exercise, the British Army showcased its newest AJAX and ARES reconnaissance-tracked armored vehicles.

This ground-breaking deployment took place during a grand-scale land exercise, dubbed the ‘Exercise Iron Titan’, carried out on the vast expanse of the Salisbury Plain Training Area [SPTA].

Pulling together a formidable force of nearly 8,000 troops for the exercise, the British Army Royal Lancers were privy to the AJAX Armoured Fighting Vehicle and the ARES Troop Carriage Armoured Fighting Vehicle, both demonstrating their capabilities during the exercise.

No good news: British Ajax's trials could drag on until 2025
Photo credit: General Dynamics UK

The appearance of the Ajax fighting machine is surprising, to say the least. In recent years, reports from London have indicated that Ajax is facing several problems, and solving them is apparently more difficult than expected.

Lots of money, little results

With a budget of £5.5 billion, the Ajax armored vehicle program, envisioned by the British Army, has not been immune to a series of challenges and numerous instances of scrutiny. Upon investigation, the Ajax units that were assembled were found to be plagued by substantial vibrations and a noise level far exceeding the projected limit.

In a March report, it was revealed by the public spending watchdog that the army is grappling with the burdens of maintaining an antiquated fleet of armored vehicles. This predicament has emerged due to persistent delays that landed the Ministry of Defense [MoD] with a paltry 26 vehicles till December 2021, notwithstanding an expenditure of £3.2bn. 

New version of the British military combat vehicle Ajax
Photo credit: GDLS UK

The National Audit Office provided further insights, pinpointing defects in both the MoD’s and GDLS-UK’s initial strategies. The auditors have asserted that these entities did not sufficiently comprehend the breadth and intricacies inherent in the Ajax program, thus contributing to the current woes.

The exercise is a positive signal

However, Ajax’s appearance during the exercise could be good news for the British military. Although expert opinion from the island is that this armored vehicle will not be ready until the end of this decade, it is possible that the designers have made progress in eliminating vibrations and noise and tested Ajax during the military exercise.

589 modern British 40mm Ajax V8 AFVs may never enter service
Photo: Wikipedia

The British Ajax-tracked armored vehicle is a modern and versatile military vehicle used by the British Army. It is designed to operate in a wide range of combat scenarios, including reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. The Ajax is part of the Scout Specialist Vehicle [SV] program, which aims to replace the aging fleet of British Army reconnaissance vehicles.

In terms of technical characteristics, the Ajax is equipped with a powerful 589 horsepower engine, allowing it to reach speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour on roads. It has a range of approximately 500 kilometers, enabling it to cover long distances without refueling. The vehicle is also designed to be highly maneuverable, with a low profile and advanced suspension system that allows it to traverse various terrains.

Ajax’s power plant

The propulsion system of the Ajax consists of a diesel engine coupled with a fully automatic transmission. This combination provides the vehicle with excellent acceleration and responsiveness, allowing it to quickly respond to changing battlefield conditions. The Ajax is also equipped with a hydraulic track tensioning system, which ensures optimal track performance and reduces maintenance requirements.

In terms of armament, the Ajax is typically equipped with a 40mm cannon as its main weapon. This cannon is capable of firing a range of ammunition, including high-explosive rounds and armor-piercing rounds, providing the vehicle with the ability to engage both infantry and armored targets. Additionally, the Ajax is equipped with a secondary weapon system, which can include machine guns or anti-tank guided missiles, depending on the specific variant.

Ajax’ purpose

The purpose of the British Ajax-tracked armored vehicle is to provide the British Army with a highly capable and adaptable reconnaissance platform. Its advanced sensors and communication systems allow it to gather and transmit critical battlefield information, providing commanders with real-time situational awareness. The Ajax is designed to operate alongside other armored vehicles, such as tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, to support offensive and defensive operations.


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