Land vehicles

Ajax: Trials For Army's Armoured Vehicle Programme Resume

More than 300 former and serving personnel involved in the Ajax programme have been contacted for an urgent hearing assessment.

Trials for the Ajax armoured vehicle programme have resumed, following a second pause due to noise concerns.

Tests of the Ajax were first paused "as a precautionary measure" between November 2020 and March 2021.

The programme was most recently halted in June but Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin has now said testing, which is taking place at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, can start again.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has contacted more than 300 personnel and veterans involved in the delivery of the vehicle type, instructing them to have their hearing assessed following noise exposure.

A "root cause analysis" of problems facing the system developers at General Dynamics will emerge from the latest trials, Mr Quin told the House of Commons.

Results will not be available this month, he added.

Earlier this week, Mr Quin wrote in an update to Parliament that a small number of veterans potentially exposed to damaging noise were still being traced.

The minister reiterated a "firm" price agreement with General Dynamics of £5.5bn for the delivery of the seven Ajax variants, and said a report into the Ajax programme will now be published for transparency purposes.

Jeremy Quin MP (Picture: Gov.uk).
Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin has reiterated points made in an update to Parliament earlier this week (Picture: Gov.uk).

No declaration of operational capability will be made until a long-term fix is identified, Mr Quin said.

The number of people impacted by the noise of the fully-digitised vehicle is yet to be revealed.

Opposing parties have criticised the timing of Mr Quin's original written update, which was mostly repeated during his address to the Commons.

The progress report on the already delayed vehicle was released late on Monday night, as much of the UK defence community continued to deal with the crisis in Afghanistan.

"I have previously described Ajax as a troubled programme. It is. But that does not mean that the problems are irresolvable," Mr Quin concluded.

Ajax forms part of UK ambitions for a future-proofed defence for the years to come -  with several systems being introduced, cancelled or upgraded.

The Integrated Review and the more detailed Defence Command Paper both serve as service playbooks - outlining where a £16.5bn increase in defence spending over the next four years could be used.

Cover image: The Ajax vehicle (Picture: MOD).