Politics

Delays to Ajax armoured automobiles danger nationwide safety, MPs warn | Navy


The Ministry of Defence ought to repair or scrap its troubled Ajax armoured automobile programme this 12 months or danger compromising nationwide safety, an influential parliamentary committee has mentioned.

The Ajax programme, meant to supply a state-of-the-art reconnaissance automobile for the military, has already been operating for 12 years and price £3.2bn however has up to now did not ship a single deployable automobile.

Originally meant to enter service in 2017, Ajax has been repeatedly delayed attributable to what the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) has described as “a litany of failures” together with noise and vibration issues that injured troopers testing the automobiles.

In a report printed on Friday, the PAC mentioned the MoD nonetheless didn’t know when Ajax would enter service or whether or not the noise and vibration points may even be mounted two years after they had been first raised.

The PAC mentioned administration of the programme had been “flawed from the outset” and the MoD had “once again made fundamental mistakes” in planning and managing a significant gear programme. As a consequence, the committee warned that the MoD was “failing to deliver” the automobiles the military wanted “to better protect the nation and meet Nato commitments”.

The PAC chair, Dame Meg Hillier, mentioned: “Enough is enough – the MoD must fix or fail this programme, before more risk to our national security and more billions of taxpayers’ money wasted. These repeated failures are putting strain on older capabilities which are overdue for replacement and are directly threatening the safety of our servicepeople and their ability to protect the nation and meet Nato commitments.”

The MoD mentioned any delays wouldn’t come at additional value to the taxpayer as a result of nature of the contract, including that no additional funds could be made to the producer, General Dynamics, till the division was “satisfied with the future trajectory of the programme”.

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The PAC report mentioned delays to the Ajax programme had compelled the military to make “operational compromises” together with prolonging use of the Warrior armoured automobile, which entered service in 1987.

Although the military is “cautiously optimistic” that Ajax can enter service by 2030, the PAC warned that any additional delays would enhance the danger of lacking even this goal and urged the MoD to discover options ought to the contract with General Dynamics collapse.

The MoD agreed a fixed-price contract with General Dynamics price £5.5bn for 589 Ajax armoured automobiles, however up to now simply 26 have been delivered and these can solely be used for coaching functions.

The PAC mentioned it doubted the programme could possibly be delivered inside present preparations. The committee mentioned it anticipated a choice on whether or not to persevere with Ajax or scrap the programme fully by the top of the 12 months.

An MoD spokesperson mentioned: “The UK contributes more than its force requirements and readiness levels asked of it by Nato. The defence secretary has been clear that Ajax is a troubled programme. We agree with many of the committee’s recommendations and are actively taking steps to correct these.

“Our firm price contract means any delays will not cost the taxpayer more. General Dynamics have received no payments under the contract in 2021 and 2022. No further payments will be made until we are satisfied with the future trajectory of the programme.”

General Dynamics has been approached for remark.



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