Here is how Ajax issues left Britain's defense exposed: The Telegraph
According to The Telegraph, numerous problems with the £5.5 billion armored vehicle have left the United Kingdom militarily vulnerable.
Nine other European nations will also be deploying the vehicle. According to reports, the country may eventually purchase 1,000 of the vehicle.
Ukraine's earlier arrangement with a London-based company sheds new light on Britain's absence of an analogous fighting vehicle for its own military - one that combines reconnaissance, protection, and firepower.
The MoD has spent more than £3bn of the public’s money on an armored car called Ajax, which deafens and injures its occupants, but cannot go over obstacles more than 20cm high, and is too hefty to fit in the RAF’s transport aircraft. Planned back in 2010, the MoD had paid £3.2bn by December 2021 for just 26 of these vehicles, none of which are usable. Defense Minister Alec Shelbrooke commented in October on the inability to "determine a realistic timetable" regarding when the Ajax would be operational or if it ever will be.
According to Francis Tusa, an independent defense analyst, the Ajax vehicle, for which the UK agreed to a £5.5 billion deal, is missing and now ten years late. Experts believe it has created a huge vacuum in the UK's competence.
"The British army is not combat-capable against a near-peer," Tusa stated, adding that the Ajax was "the cornerstone of modernization. It hasn’t delivered and it won’t deliver for another three to four years.”
A revealing assessment released this week gave some insight into what went wrong. It blamed infighting between groups at the Ministry of Defense and a tendency for employees to conceal difficulties from their superiors, alleging that instead, they sought to fix problems on their own.
According to Barrister Clive Sheldon KC's analysis, “The relationships between different entities within or associated with MoD were at times fractious and involved guarding of territory."
MPs have already asked for the project to be abandoned, despite the fact that several hundred soldiers now need treatment for noise and vibration exposure.
Sheldon also added that some showed a desire to resolve problems "at their level, and not to bother overworked leaders unless strictly necessary.”
Challenge culture needed
According to the investigation, a "challenge culture" among individuals purchasing equipment was needed to encourage dissenting ideas to be heard.
However, the plan is also a victim of frequent tinkering and shifting expectations.
Ajax began more than 25 years ago when the UK established a plan to provide medium-weight reconnaissance vehicles to the army, and according to sources, the Rwanda genocide in 1994 exposed the weakness of Western nations to deploy troops quickly.
The UK was looking to replace its older Scorpion vehicles, known for being "inadequate" in the first Gulf War. It decided then to merge with a similar US program and create the Ajax that could be airlifted for quick reactions.
The armored vehicle had to be of significant size to scare off fighters but light enough to be lifted in a C130 Hercules and face road challenges. At the time, the Labor government was concerned that such a vehicle would cause too many casualties, a disagreement that according to Tusa, reduces the likelihood of success and adds costs.
The UK and US eventually called off the project, and the UK continued with a new development dubbed Future Rapid Effect System (FRES), an ambitious plan to create over 3,000 vehicles that could be carried by the bigger and more powerful A400M carrier.
At the time, additional armor had increased the weight requirement of FRES, causing the 2007 Commons Defense Committee to warn of significant delays.
According to Tusa, “The fact that neither us nor the United States was able to bring into service this air portable vehicle tells you quite a lot.”
Tusa believes that altogether "it is the poster child for what has gone wrong with procurement." The Ministry of Defence maintains that the vehicles will be key.
According to a spokesman, “Ajax will be central to the British Army’s modernized fleet of armored vehicles and our soldiers are now training on the platform, with more than 6,900km driven on trials to date."
“We make no apology for insisting on equipment that provides high levels of ballistic protection for our personnel.”
In the meantime, the UK's defenses are vulnerable and depend on the Warrior, a smaller and older vehicle, until Ajax is available. After a decade of delays, many are no longer excited about it.