Britain’s MoD has paid £5.5bn for 589 Ajax armored vehicles which have been described as “flawed from the start”
The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) is facing significant challenges as a result of delays and safety problems that have hampered the delivery of the British Army’s new fleet of hundreds of armored vehicles, the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed on Friday.
Describing the approach taken by the MoD as “flawed from the start,” the NAO highlighted how “management failures have since led to missed program milestones and unresolved safety and technical issues,” with the manufacturer and military remaining in “dispute over unresolved” problems.
The public spending watchdog laid out the situation in a report released on Friday, highlighting the “significant problems” that have plagued the MoD’s acquisition of the Ajax armored vehicles, which are set to provide the UK army with “its first fully digitized platform.”
The MoD has a £5.5 billion ($7.19 billion) contract with General Dynamics Land Systems to design, manufacture and provide initial support for 589 Ajax armored vehicles. However, at the end of 2021, despite the UK having paid £3.2 billion ($4.18 billion), the MoD had only received 26 vehicles, leaving the military with an aging fleet that is expensive to maintain.
“The NAO report reads like a checklist for major project failure where almost everything that can go wrong, did go wrong. It means Ajax has now joined the sorry pantheon of government projects which have gone off the tracks,” Meg Hillier, Labour MP and chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said in response to the latest assessment.
The public spending watchdog states that previous safety concerns about excessive noise and vibration levels in the armored vehicles, preventing them from being used, remains unsolved. The NAO has claimed that the MoD has still not provided a revised operating capability target date for the armored vehicles.
“As we have made clear, Ajax is a troubled program, and we will not accept a vehicle that is not fit for purpose. As the NAO recognizes, we are working with General Dynamics to resolve the noise and vibration issues with a view to Ajax being successfully delivered to the army,” the MoD said in a statement.