• General Dynamics' AJAX arriving at Land Forces 2018. Credit: GDLS
    General Dynamics' AJAX arriving at Land Forces 2018. Credit: GDLS

The Ajax that was unsuccessfully proposed by General Dynamics Land Systems for the ADF’s Project Land 400 Phase 3 is facing serious problems in meeting the requirements of the UK’s £5.5 billion (A$10 billion) armoured vehicle program. 

The UK signed a contract for 589 of the tracked Ajax platforms in six variants in 2014 but after expenditure to date of £3.7 billion only 14 vehicles have been delivered for trial – in this instance the Ares troop-carrying reconnaissance variant. 

According to a leaked report by the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority quoted by the BBC, problems have continued with the turret and the 40mm case telescoped gun of the main Ajax vehicle. 

Other issues included the inability to reverse over an obstacle more than 20cm high and  excessive noise and vibration. These led to trials being halted for four months late last year following complaints that crews were suffering from temporary hearing loss and aching joints. 

The trials were resumed in March. UK Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin told Parliament on 8 June the vibration issue was serious, and had been detected by Ministry of Defence (MoD) specialists rather than the manufacturer.

Regarding other reported performance issues, Quin commented “with things like fire or manoeuvre and speed limitation, we should not read into them that the vehicle is incapable either of firing on the move or of going above 20 mph (32 kph). That is not the case; it is simply that that is not what it is certified to do at the moment.”

However, on 30 June all Ajax trials were again suspended, with the MoD stating resumption would only occur “when we are assured that mitigations are fully effective." 

Ajax had missed its 30 June Initial Operating Capability milestone and no indications could be given of a new timeline for the vehicles’ entry into service, the MoD said.

No details of the new technical problems that prompted the second pause were released, although General Dynamics spokesman said the company was confident in its vehicle design and stood behind Ajax.

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