General Dynamics Land Systems has said that delivery of the Ajax platform of armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) to the British Army is underway and that the company is on track to deliver initial operating capability for the platform on schedule.
Speaking today at Defence IQ’s International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2020 in London, General Dynamics Executive Programme Director for Ajax Rebecca McGrane gave an update on the programme after the company yesterday outlined some of the vehicle’s future capabilities at the event.
McGrane said: “We are working in partnership with the British Army and DE&S to deliver Ajax initial operating capability later this year.”
The company also said it expects to deliver eight vehicles a month to the British Army later this year. Initial operating capability of the vehicles is expected for mid-2020 with the British Army targeting July.
In the briefing, the company said that first production vehicles of all variants have been completed including the turreted platform, one of which was on show at the event. The first batch of vehicles are currently in various stages of delivery with the vehicles either delivered, in government acceptance testing or awaiting government acceptance testing.
The company is currently working on ‘installation of the first training assets’ and is preparing for initial operating capability with the British Army later on this year.
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These training assets including simulators and turret trainers are being installed at the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Armour Centre in Bovington, and MOD Lyneham, home to the Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering which trains Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Trials with the vehicle are also ongoing, with the Ajax undergoing cold-weather testing in northern Sweden. General Dynamics said that so far the vehicle has completed 14,000km and achieved 42 battlefield missions and that an ATLAS support variant had successfully been used to recover a Challenger Main Battle Tank (MBT) in trials.
In the briefing, General Dynamics said that there was ‘strong production momentum’ across the six variants of the vehicle at its Merthyr Tydfil plant in south Wales. The vehicles’ hulls are being manufactured in Spain after which they are shipped to the UK to be fitted out.
According to the company, production of the Ajax has made the Wales plant the largest active AFV facility in the UK.
Later this year the Ajax is set to take part in the Army Warfighting Experiment where it will assess the potential of manned-unmanned teaming with the Ajax alongside an unmanned ground vehicle and unmanned aerial system, the experiment is designed to test whether pairing manned vehicles with unmanned counterparts is a distraction or an enabler on the battlefield.