The British Army has announced that it will resume training on the Ajax armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) after a suspension of more than six months due to safety concerns. The decision follows a series of modifications and tests conducted by the manufacturer, General Dynamics UK, and the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation.
The Ajax programme, which aims to deliver 589 AFVs to the British Army by 2027, has faced multiple delays and technical issues since its inception in 2010. The most serious problem was the discovery of excessive noise and vibration levels inside the vehicle, which could cause hearing damage and nausea to the crew. In June 2021, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered a halt to all trials and training activities involving Ajax until further notice.
Since then, General Dynamics UK and DE&S have worked together to identify and implement solutions to reduce noise and vibration levels. These include installing new rubber mounts for the engine and transmission, adding acoustic insulation to the hull and turret, and modifying the exhaust system. The MoD said that these measures have resulted in a significant improvement in the vehicle’s performance and comfort.
The MoD also said that it has conducted an independent review of the Ajax programme, which confirmed that the vehicle meets the operational requirements of the British Army and that there are no fundamental design flaws. The review also recommended some additional actions to ensure the successful delivery of the programme, such as strengthening the governance and oversight arrangements, enhancing the testing and verification processes, and improving communication and collaboration between all stakeholders.
The British Army said that it will resume training on the Ajax in a phased manner, starting with a small number of vehicles at a single location. The training will be closely monitored by medical and technical experts to ensure the safety and well-being of the personnel involved. The Army also said that it will continue to work with General Dynamics UK and DE&S to address any remaining issues and to achieve full operational capability as soon as possible.
The Ajax is expected to provide the British Army with a new generation of AFVs that can perform a range of roles, such as reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, fire support, command and control, and logistics. The vehicle is equipped with a 40mm cannon, an advanced electronic architecture, a high level of protection, and a high degree of mobility. The Ajax is also designed to be interoperable with other NATO allies and compatible with future technologies.