Army’s £3.57bn tank trial halted for being too slow and too noisy

A pre-production prototype of the turreted Ajax tank (Credits: MoD/Crown copyright 2016)
A pre-production prototype of the turreted Ajax tank (Credits: MoD/Crown copyright 2016)

The Ministry of Defence halted trials of a £3.57bn family of tanks over major design flaws, an internal report reveals.

Excessive vibrations and noise left test crews with temporary hearing problems and aching joints, according to the report seen by The Sun.

Trials of the ‘Ajax’ tanks resumed with strict safety protocols after four months on hold.

Crew must now reportedly travel at a maximum of 20mph in the vehicles designed to move at up to 40mph, and they can’t stay in the tanks for more than 90 minutes at a time.

They also must wear noise-cancelling headphones and get their hearing tested after they operate the tanks.

But the vehicles aren’t just plagued by safety issues. The report says they cannot fire missiles while in motion or reverse over obstacles taller than 20cm.

The MoD ordered 589 tracked Ajax vehicles back in 2014 as part of a £5.5bn modernisation programme. But it’s faced numerous setbacks and is years behind schedule, according to the Telegraph.

The report, by the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority, says the ‘successful delivery of the programme to time, cost and quality appears to be unachievable.’

But the MoD says its soldiering on with the tanks.

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment leap from their Foxhound protected patrol vehicle during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise ahead of the UK Task Group deployment to Mali, on the Ministry of Defence training area on Salisbury Plain, on October 13, 2020 in Salisbury, England. Later this year, 300 military personnel will join the UN in Mali on a peacekeeping mission and help counter instability following a coup which ousted President Ke??ta in August. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was formed in response to the seizing of territory by militant Islamists following a coup in 2012. The crisis in Mali has thrust 12.9 million into a precarious security situation, according to a UN estimate, with 6.8 million in need of humanitarian assistance. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
British Army soldiers are pictured during a training exercise with a tank. (Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A spokesman said in a statement: ‘[The] programme will form a key component in the army’s modernised warfighting division, with current plans for Initial Operating Capability scheduled for summer 2021.’

‘The MoD can confirm that some training on the Ajax family of vehicles was paused as a precautionary measure.

‘This is a normal measure for the demonstration phase of projects; an investigation, incorporating trials, is being carried out jointly with the manufacturer. It is inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.

‘The health and safety of our personnel is of the utmost importance and we are committed to providing a safe working environment.’

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