Ground Warfare

British Army’s Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle Passes Extreme Cold Tests in Sweden’s Lapland

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British Army’s Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle Passes Extreme Cold Tests in Sweden’s Lapland

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The British Army’s armoured fighting vehicle, the AJAX, has emerged victorious in a series of rigorous tests conducted in the frigid landscapes of Sweden’s Lapland. The trials, conducted by the British Army Household Cavalry Regiment on February 19, 2024, showcased the AJAX’s exceptional endurance in extreme cold, with temperatures plummeting to a bone-chilling minus 30°C. Beyond demonstrating its resilience in harsh winter conditions, the AJAX underscored its advanced capabilities in intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) under challenging circumstances. The testing revealed the vehicle’s ability to operate seamlessly in severely cold environments, including efficient on-the-move firing capacities. The success of the overseas trials marked a pivotal moment for the British Army, as it witnessed the first firing of the AJAX by a Field Army crew, both domestically and internationally.

Formerly known as the Scout SV, the AJAX faced developmental challenges, but its triumph in the extreme cold tests signifies a significant milestone in its journey. Manufactured and designed by General Dynamics UK and General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas, with Lockheed Martin UK contributing to the turret and fire control system, the AJAX boasts an advanced ISTAR package with automated search, tracking, and detection capabilities, expanding the stand-off range for identifying and tracking targets. Equipped with a 20 Gbit/s Ethernet intelligent open architecture, the AJAX can capture, process, and store large volumes of information gathered by its sensors. This data can be shared in real-time through an integrated Bowman communication system. The vehicle’s power systems, including a silent auxiliary power generator, ensure seamless operations of its advanced features.

British Army General Dynamics Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle
British Army General Dynamics Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle

The AJAX project contributes significantly to the UK’s defense industry, with 80% of vehicle manufacture and 70% of supply chain companies based in the UK. The project supports 400 jobs at General Dynamics UK’s facilities and an estimated 4,000 jobs in the broader British supply chain. The National Audit Office (NAO) warned there was a risk that troubles with the project “might prove insurmountable”. A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said it would “not accept a vehicle that is not fit for purpose. Built by General Dynamics, the Ajax armoured vehicles are supposed to provide the Army with the latest cutting edge digital battlefield technology. As of December 2021, more than 300 personnel may have been harmed by vibration and noise during testing, which has led to the significant delays. A source close to workers at the Merthyr plant said there was frustration at the delays and ongoing issues, and that a cloud was hanging over employees there.

Limited User Validation Trials recommenced in October 2022, with a view to commencing Reliability Growth Trials in January 2023. On 24 February 2023 Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described the programme as having “turned a corner” and being “back on track”. In March 2023 the MOD said it had resumed payments to General Dynamics Land Systems UK (GDLS-UK), having halted them more than two years previously. The project has cost around £5.5bn so far, although according to the MOD “the whole programme remains within its originally approved budget level”. Despite facing delays in development and production, the AJAX’s recent success in the extreme cold tests signifies progress. The Ministry of Defence anticipates full operating capability between October 2028 and September 2029, showcasing the British Army’s commitment to integrating this advanced armored vehicle into its forces after thorough training and conversion.

British Army General Dynamics Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle
British Army General Dynamics Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle

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