What Is The Ajax Vehicle?
The Ajax, formerly known as the Scout SV (Specialist Vehicle) was renamed in 2015 and is part of a family of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs).
Ajax will be a fully-digitised, tracked, medium-weight core of the British Army's deployable ISTAR capability and will providing a full suite of medium-armoured vehicles and capabilities.
Made for a crew of three, it is 3.5m wide, 2.7m tall and is designed to reach a top speed of 70kph.
It weighs around 42 tonnes, and can reverse over objects 75cm tall.
How Many Variants Of Ajax Are There?
A multibillion-pound contract with General Dynamics was agreed to build six variants of Ajax, fulfilling numerous roles.
In April, a new Ajax variant was revealed, called 'Overwatch', which is designed to carry Brimstone and is based upon the Ares model.
- Ajax (turreted, reconnaissance and strike)
- Ares (reconnaissance and Armoured Personnel Carrier)
- Argus (engineer reconnaissance)
- Athena (command and control)
- Atlas (equipment support recovery)
- Apollo (equipment repair)
- Overwatch (Brimstone Anti-tank Guided Weapon variant)
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said that as of May 2021, General Dynamics had completed 263 hulls and 58 turrets have been manufactured under a sub-contract with Lockheed Martin.
In total, 107 vehicles have been produced so far.
The Ajax vehicle could operate in the vanguard of the British Army's future Heavy Brigade and Deep Recce Strike Combat Teams, providing vital force protection for the more dispersed force and ensuring the integrity of long-range persistent surveillance.
What Are The Key Features Of Ajax?
- 'Eyes' – all-weather ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and recognition) capability
- 'Ears' – vehicle-mounted 'Acusonic' acoustic shot detection systems
- Combat power capability (digital fire control systems)
- Digital infrastructure (all crew have access to 360° live data)
- Protection (levels are classified)
- Reduced logistic footprint
Ajax is designed to have a ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and recognition) and sensor capability, with the ability to the capture, process and storage of data from multiple Ajax platforms (which can be shared via a real-time communication system) and will allow a close-up picture of the battlefield for remote headquarters.
Its stabilised system provides on-the-move target engagement and surveillance capability.
The vehicle contains 360° Situational Awareness Systems and thermal imagers and cameras which enable day/night/long range/infrared/laser search and detection.
Protection in the vehicle defends the crew against multiple threats and includes chemical detection, laser and missile warning systems. Ajax will have three vehicle-mounted Acusonic acoustic shot detection sensors that can detect the direction of incoming fire.
What Weapon Systems Does Ajax Have?
The primary armament is the CTAI 40 mm CTAS (Cased Telescoped Armament System) integrated into a revolutionary user-defined turret, along with a 7.62mm coaxial machine-gun. The Primary Sight can be replaced with a fully stabilised Remote-Weapon system and its digital fire control system enables Ajax to fire on the move.
CT40 can conduct 'smart fires' which means they can fire: air burst rounds (13,000 sq ft coverage), point detonating rounds (can defeat 8.3" reinforced concrete) and armour piercing rounds (can penetrate 140mm hardened steel armour).
Where Can Ajax Operate?
Its turret elevation range means it can engage aerial and urban targets. It has been tested in arctic conditions of -31 in Sweden and has successfully completed water obstacle trials to manoeuvre on and off landing craft.
How Many Ajax Will The MOD Have?
There were 589 vehicles that were part of the original deal with General Dymanics.
This will likely include: 245 of the Ajax variant, 93 Ares, 51 of the Argus variant, 112 Athenas, 38 of the Atlas and 50 Apollos.
Fourteen vehicles have been delivered to the UK, although the Defence Minister said these are vehicles "are all at capability drop one standard".
This means they are "designed for the experimentation, training and the familiarisation of crews first in line for the vehicles", according to Mr Quin.
The first six ARES were delivered in February 2019 and the rest will be delivered by 2024.
Defence minister Jeremy Quin said the contract was a "firm price contract", with £5.5bn "the maximum that is payable" to the prime contractor.
The name 'Ajax' can be applied to all of them, but specifically refers to the turreted version – which is fitted with a CTAI 40 mm CTAS (Cased Telescoped Armament System), with the aim of enabling it to fire on the move.
Ajax is intended to support the British Army's new Strike Brigades, Armoured Cavalry Regiments, Armoured and Armoured Infantry battlegroups and Combat Support elements.
As detailed in March's Defence Command Paper, new British Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) will make use of the Ajax's sensors, combining them with enhanced fires systems to provide long-range persistent surveillance.
Initial operating capability for the Ajax vehicles is expected in the coming months.
Currently four years behind schedule, negotiations with General Dynamics, the prime contractor, "were held between December 2018 and May 2019", according to Mr Quin.
"The forecast initial operating capability, the IOC, was delayed by a year to 30 June 2021, later this month, at 50% confidence – with 90% confidence of September 21," the defence minister said.
"Despite the ongoing impact of COVID, we have stuck by this IOC date – though it remains, of course, subject to review."
Cover image: Ajax pictured at DSEI (Picture: Sgt Peter Devine, Crown Copyright).