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MoD “failing to deliver the capability Army needs to better protect the nation and meet NATO commitments”

3 June 2022

In a report today the Public Accounts Committee says the Ministry of Defence has “once again made fundamental mistakes in its planning and management of a major equipment programme” and is “failing to deliver the enhanced armoured vehicles capability that the Army needs to better protect the nation and meet its NATO commitments.”

The PAC says the Ajax programme, begun in 2010 and “intended to transform the Army’s surveillance and reconnaissance capability” has “gone badly wrong”. MoD has a £5.5 billion firm-price contract with General Dynamics Land Systems UK for the design, manufacture and initial in-service support of 589 Ajax armoured vehicles, and initially expected to bring Ajax into service in 2017 - but subsequently missed a revised target of June 2021.

By December 2021 MoD had paid General Dynamics £3.2 billion for just 26 Ajax vehicles, none of which it can use: MoD still does not know how to fix noise and vibration problems two years after identifying they were injuring soldiers using the tanks. 

More than a year behind the revised schedule, slow progress and continued delays create “significant risks to value for money, put at risk the Army’s plans for transformation and mean soldiers will have to use existing outdated vehicles for longer”, while the “programme remains under significant pressure”. Trials involving Army crews have been suspended indefinitely and noise and vibration issues remain unresolved. MoD and General Dynamics remain in dispute over payment.

Chair's comments

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“The MoD has made fundamental mistakes in its planning and management of this project. The Ajax tanks programme has been deeply flawed from the outset and the PAC now seriously doubts it can be recovered within existing costs and commercial arrangements.

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 at MoD are putting strain on older capabilities which are overdue for replacement and are directly threatening the safety of our service people and their ability to protect the nation and meet NATO commitments.”

Further information

Image: MoD