GD opens assembly facility for British Army's Ajax vehicle in South Wales
General Dynamics (GD) UK has converted a Merthyr Tydfil facility into an assembly, integration and testing centre for the British Army's next-generation of armoured vehicles worth £390m.
The company will begin assembling and testing the army's first fully digitised Ajax vehicle at the new site in 2017.
UK Defence Procurement Minister Philip Dunne said: "The opening of this new facility is a major development for both Merthyr Tydfil and the British Army. It is another reminder of the importance of defence investment right across the UK: the Ajax programme alone is sustaining 2,800 jobs across the country, 550 of which are here in Wales.
"This new facility, like the next generation vehicle it will produce, is more evidence of our £178bn commitment to provide our armed forces with the equipment they need.
"Thanks to the close partnership between the UK Government and industry, this site will spring back in to life as a significant centre of employment and bring in valuable skills with a lasting legacy for the entire region."
Capable of operating in combined-arms and multinational situations across a wide-range of operating environments, while providing the army with enhanced intelligence, surveillance, protection, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities, the Ajax variants will replace the tracked combat vehicle reconnaissance.
The Ajax programme aims to enable the UK Army to conduct sustained, expeditionary, full-spectrum and network-enabled operations with a reduced logistics footprint.
The UK MoD had contracted GD UK to supply 589 Ajax armoured fighting vehicles in six variants from 2016 through to 2023.
The new vehicle will give the army enhanced intelligence, surveillance, protection, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities. It will feature a highly effective 40mm cannon, which was developed jointly with France.