Ajax (armoured vehicle)
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Pre-production prototype of the turreted Ajax variant
|Type||Armoured fighting vehicle|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Designer||General Dynamics UK|
|Manufacturer||General Dynamics UK|
|Weight||38 tonnes with growth potential to 42 tonnes|
|Crew||2+4 passengers for PMRS variant|
|CTA International CT40 40 mm cannon|
L94A1 coaxial 7.62 mm chain gun|
Kongsberg Protector Remote Weapon Station (UK testing with Javelin ATGM)
|Engine||MTU 600 kW 8V engine|
|Transmission||RENK 6 speed HSWL 256B|
The Ajax is a development of the ASCOD armoured fighting vehicle used by the Spanish and Austrian armed forces. The family was originally developed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug and Santa Bárbara Sistemas in the early 1990s. Both companies were purchased by General Dynamics in the early 2000s.
In 2010, General Dynamics UK was selected as the winner of the Future Rapid Effect System contract with the ASCOD Common Base Platform, beating BAE Systems' CV-90 proposal. The Ajax family will be procured in a number of variants, initially planned to be in blocks, with the first vehicles planned to be delivered in 2017 and full operational capability being established by 2019.
The Ajax has its origins in the Future Rapid Effect System program going back to the 1990s when the joint UK/USA TRACER program was cancelled. The purpose of the FRES program was to find a replacement for the British Army's Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) family of vehicles, which have been in service from 1971. General Dynamics UK won the contract in March 2010 after years of competition from BAE Systems. After the Ministry of Defence had selected the ASCOD 2 Common Base Platform, BAE tried to reverse the decision by offering to manufacture the CV-90 at their Newcastle facility. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Defence awarded General Dynamics a £500 million Demonstration Phase contract. General Dynamics has conducted design review work using the input of soldiers and bringing the ASCOD 2 Chassis in line with the British requirements.
The Ajax program passed the "Preliminary Design Review" (PDR), initial design point in December 2012. At this stage of development, a review of system maturity, and preliminary system design were held. In late 2013, the "Common Base Platform Critical Design Review" (CDR) was completed and development continued. In June 2014, the PMRS (Protected Mobility Recce Support) variant of the Scout Family had officially completed its CDR and a "Mobile Test Rig", the precursor to a prototype, which had been undergoing rigorous testing including cold weather and Operational and Tactical (O&T) mobility trials, as well as Accelerated Life Testing (ALT), had completed system de-risking. At the DVD exhibition in 2014, the first pre-production prototype of the PMRS variant was unveiled, built at General Dynamics' facilities in Spain.
Initially, the Ajax was planned to be procured in a number of blocks totalling 1,010 vehicles. With the first order of Block 1 vehicles encompassing Scout Reconnaissance, PMRS APC, and Repair and Recovery variants, with Reconnaissance, C2, and Ambulance variants to follow in a second, Block 2, order. There was even a possibility for a third Block of vehicles encompassing a "Direct Fire" vehicle with a 120mm main gun, "Manoeuvre Support" and a "Joint Fires" variant equipped to succeed the FV102 Striker in the anti-tank role. However, as of September 2014 Block 3 vehicles have been dropped and the Ministry of Defence has said that there are currently "no plans" to order any Block 2 vehicles.
On 3 September 2014, the British Government announced the order for 589 Scout SV vehicles ahead of the NATO Summit in Wales on 4 September 2014, totaling a cost of £3.5 billion excluding VAT. A number of Block 2 variants has been merged into the Block 1 order, which still encompassed the planned 589 vehicles.
The variants ordered include:
- 245 turreted 'Ajax' variants
- 198 Reconnaissance and Strike (Ajax)
- 23 Joint Fire Control (Ajax)
- 24 Ground Based Surveillance (Ajax)
- 256 Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) variants
- 59 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) (Ares)
- 112/124 Command and Control (Athena)
- 34 Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch (Ares)
- 51 Engineer Reconnaissance (Argus)
- 88 Engineering variants based on the PMRS
- 38 Recovery vehicles (Atlas)
- 50 Repair vehicles (Apollo)
Further variants, including an ambulance type, are speculated in a future Block 2 order. The vehicles currently on order will be handed over to the British Army from 2017, with the last being delivered around 2026.
In July 2015, the Ministry of Defence concluded their study into having final assembly of the Scout SV vehicles take place in the UK rather than General Dynamics' primary production facility in Spain. It was reported on 23 July that there was a business case for UK final assembly and testing. The same day the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that, as part of a £390 million maintenance package that would last until 2024, General Dynamics UK would produce the last 489 vehicles in South Wales. General Dynamics will purchase a former forklift factory in Pentrebach to assemble the Scout SV. Days later, it was also reported that Thales UK had won the sight system contract for the Scout family, safeguarding engineering and manufacturing jobs at their site in Scotland.
In early August 2015, it became clear that the German Rheinmetall company was contracted to manufacture the Scout SV turrets, and that Meggitt received an order to manufacture the Scout SV ammunition handling system.
On 15 September 2015, it was announced that Scout would be renamed Ajax. The name Ajax will apply to the family as a whole, but also to the turreted variant specifically. The reconnaissance support variant is to be named Ares; the command-and-control variant is to be named Athena; the equipment repair vehicle is to be named Apollo; the equipment recovery variant is to be named Atlas; and the engineering reconnaissance variant is to be named Argus.
In April 2016, the firing of its main cannon and chain gun was successful, while successful manned firing tests of the three machine guns which can be fitted to the ARES vehicle took place in December 2016.
Delivery and operation
The first delivery is scheduled for 2017, while the first British Army squadron "will be equipped by mid-2019" so that they could be deployed by the end of 2020.
The Ajax is manufactured and designed by General Dynamics UK and General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas (Spain), with the new turret and fire control system fitted on the Reconnaissance variant being designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin UK. Lockheed Martin is working closely with the Defence Support Group for turret manufacture and assembly as well as Rheinmetall. 75% of turret and CT40 work will be carried out in the UK. The turret ring is 1.7 m in diameter, allowing for much more work-space than comparable AFVs. The Scout SV is also equipped with a state of the art ISTAR package with advanced sensors and space for further future growth. This advanced ISTAR package allows for automated search, tracking and detection, more than doubling stand-off range at which targets can be identified and tracked.
The Ajax has a 20 Gbit/s Ethernet intelligent open architecture, which enables it to capture, process and store six TBs of information gathered by the sensors. It can then share this data, be it images or other information, via a real-time integrated BOWMAN communication system as fitted to the Challenger 2. Power for these systems comes from a silent auxiliary power generator. 80% of the vehicle manufacture will be completed in the UK, with 70% of the supply chain companies UK-based. Five pre-production prototypes will be produced in Spain for further development and testing. The Ajax family will support 300 jobs at General Dynamics UK's facility in South Wales and an estimated further 1000 jobs in the UK supply chain.
- United Kingdom - In development - 245 Ajax, 93 Ares, 112 Athena, 50 Apollo, 38 Atlas and 51 Argus ordered.
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- "Javelin missile completes ground vehicle launch tests for UK Army".
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- "DAjax uncovered: Detailing the British Army's" (PDF). IHS Janes. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
- Nicholas de Larrinaga & Christopher F Foss (2014). "UK places GBP3.5 billion Scout SV order". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- "David Cameron unveils £390m MoD deal creating 250 jobs". BBC News. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
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- de Larrinaga, Nicholas. "Meggitt receives order for Scout SV ammunition handling system". IHS Jane's 360. IHS Jane's. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
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- "AJAX successfully completes major live firing milestone - News stories - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
- "General Dynamics Land Systems–UK completes first AJAX programme manned live firing trial".
- Foss, Chris (September 2015). "On The Mend: British Army looks to refreshed AFVs, volume XLVIII, page XXXVIII". Janes Defence. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- de Larrinaga, Nicholas. "DSEI 2015: UK's Scout SV renamed Ajax as first turreted prototype unveiled". janes.com. Jane's IHS. Retrieved 17 September 2015.