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New In-Service Dates Confirmed For British Army AJAX

AJAX image released in 2021 [Crown Copyright: Cpl Alex Morris]

Positive progress has continued on the next phase of AJAX trials as new in-service dates are confirmed and payments resume to General Dynamics.

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Press Release, Whitehall, 20 March 2023: Positive progress has continued on the next phase of AJAX trials, with the Ministry of Defence today confirming the revised in-service dates and resuming payments to General Dynamics for delivery of the programme.

With an initial payment of £480 million, withheld since December 2020 due to challenges with noise and vibration, the MoD will resume payments to General Dynamics as the vehicles are scheduled to enter initial operating capability between July and December 2025. Assembled predominantly at General Dynamics in Merthyr Tydfil, 589 AJAX vehicles are due to be delivered to the British Army, bolstering the Army’s land-based reconnaissance capability.

AJAX family vehicles at DVD 2018 [© Bob Morrison]

Delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country, the payment will cascade to the UK-wide supply chain of more than 230 companies, supporting more than 4,000 jobs throughout the UK, including hundreds in South Wales. Future payments will be made against the new schedule and its milestones, conditional on the delivery of compliant and deployable AJAX vehicles and continued progress of remaining trials activity. This follows the Defence Secretary’s visit to Bovington Camp last month, to see the ongoing trials.

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “Having worked closely with General Dynamics to address the issues, I am pleased to say that we are making progress and are now on course to see the delivery of a suite of hundreds of battle-ready vehicles for the British Army.”

Reliability Growth Trials continue to progress well, testing the durability of the platform and components through a series of battlefield missions. Since starting trials, AJAX, APOLLO, ATLAS and ARES variants have driven over 2,260 kilometres through different terrains, completing a variety of representative battlefield tasks such as operating across a range of speeds and terrains, firing weapon systems, using the vehicles systems and communications and completing specialist tasks such as vehicle recoveries and repairs using the integrated crane.

AJAX at IAV 2020 [©BM]

AJAX will deliver a step-change in the surveillance capability for the Army, with its suite of cutting-edge sensors, enhanced 40mm cannon, modular armour, and improved cross-country mobility. The programme will provide a world leading competitive advantage delivering 589 vehicles that will allow the Army to operate in all weathers, 24 hours a day.

Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith said: “I am pleased and excited to see AJAX progress through the Reliability and Growth Trials.

“AJAX is the heart of the Army’s modernisation programme, significantly enhancing our surveillance and strike capability.”

Subject to contract amendment, updated schedules direct that Initial Operating Capability will be achieved between July and December 2025, delivering a trained and deployable squadron that can be sustained on operations for up to six months. Full Operating Capability will follow between October 2028 and September 2029, when the Army has trained and converted forces to the AJAX platform to deliver Armoured Cavalry capability to the Deep Reconnaissance Strike Brigade and its two Armoured Brigade Combat Teams.

A robust firm price contract remains for the delivery of the 589 vehicles, which will ensure that General Dynamics are incentivised to deliver against agreed outcomes. As such, the whole programme remains within its originally approved budget level and the Department has worked collaboratively and constructively with General Dynamics to achieve this.

Static AJAX at the 2016 Combined Arms Manoeuvre Display on Salisbury Plain [© Bob Morrison]

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