UK Ajax Tank Trials Halted Over Design Concerns

The UK has halted trials of a fleet of Ajax tanks after it was reported that the vehicle has developed a range of issues stemming from its faulty design.

Problems with the vehicle include excessive vibration, which has reportedly restricted its speed to 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour, half its normal speed.

The Ajax’s vibration and resultant noise have caused crew members to experience swollen joints and tinnitus, forcing the army to suspend trials in November 2020 through March this year, The Telegraph revealed, citing a government report.

Noise-Related Issues

The report also revealed that the army has placed an operation limit inside the tank of one hour 30 minutes and has asked personnel to wear noise-canceling headphones while inside the vehicle.

The paper added that an ear test has been made mandatory for soldiers who have trained in the tank.

Related issues include the inability to fire while the tank is moving and to reverse the vehicle “over an obstacle more than 20cm high.”

Problem Known Since 2017

The outlet further revealed that the problems were known to the army as early as 2017, but they didn’t admit them due to embarrassment.

The 3.5 billion pound ($4.9 billion) Ajax program is a key part of the army’s modernized warfighting division, and the plan is to deploy the vehicles this summer.

589 Tanks Ordered

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) ordered 589 General Dynamics Ajax tanks of various types in 2014 to replace the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) armored fighting vehicles, the outlet reported.

“The Army and the MoD have got to realize that they have got a problem on their hands. Throwing money at this is what they’ve done for the last four years, and they have not solved any of the problems,” Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, told The Telegraph.

“At the moment, Ajax is the poster child for failed procurement.”

MoD’s Statement

The MoD, meanwhile, has acknowledged that the tank’s training has been paused as a “precautionary measure,” and termed it as “normal.”

“We are committed to the Ajax programme which will form a key component in the Army’s modernised warfighting division, with current plans for Initial Operating Capability scheduled for summer 2021,” an MoD spokesperson said in a statement.

“The health and safety of our personnel is of the utmost importance and we are committed to providing a safe working environment.”

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