The manufacturer of a “troubled” armored fighting vehicle used by the British Army has admitted that it was already aware of technical problems as early as 2010.
The military invested 3.5 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) in nearly 600 fighting vehicles from defense corporation General Dynamics but has only received 26 to date.
Trials of the Ajax fighting vehicles had to be suspended after eight soldiers suffered injuries due to vibration while driving the vehicles. More than 20 troopers who used the equipment also sought treatment because of hearing issues.
During Tuesday’s defense committee hearing in the House of Commons, two senior officials from General Dynamics said they also encountered vibrations and noise issues when they used the Ajax vehicles more than a decade ago.
“If we’re talking about noise and vibration on the platform, this has been a feature of the design since 2010 when we started working on the program,” the company’s vice president, Carew Wilks, revealed.
British Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, told members of Parliament that his office first received reports of technical issues with Ajax fighting vehicles in 2019.
He also pointed out that the Ajax is a “troubled program,” that the manufacturer took a real risk in developing vehicles that may need to be modified due to design issues.
During the hearing, it was also revealed that money had been allotted to identify issues with the armored vehicle fleet. However, billions of pounds have already been given to the manufacturer.
“I have described Ajax as a troubled program, I wish it wasn’t, but it is,” Quin told the Defence Committee. “It requires a lot of work from ourselves and our industry partners to get ourselves back on track. We can’t be 100 percent certain that that can be achieved.”
Possible Program Cancellation
Quin explained during the hearing that although British officials and General Dynamics are committed to making the Ajax program a success, there is still a possibility that the multi-billion-pound project will be canceled.
If the cancellation happens, a legal battle between the Minister of Defence and the manufacturer could emerge over the issue of compensation.
The procurement official also announced that his office is now looking for the “right person” to oversee the program until deciding on whether to continue using the vehicle or officially cancel the program is made.