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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

18 September 2015

News and Contracts in the British Army AJAX Platform

General Dynamics UK (GDUK) has unveiled the turreted AJAX prototype platform (formerly SCOUT programme) at DSEI 2015, which is the second prototype to be unveiled by General Dynamics UK, and the first to feature the Lockheed Martin UK-developed turret, which is designed to meet the needs of the modern British soldier.

GDUK's AJAX platform at DSEI features Lockheed Martin UK/Rheinmetall's turret, armed with a stabilised 40mm Case Telescoped Cannon (CTC) being provided as government furnished equipment by the UK MoD, and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. (Photos: DPM)

Lockheed Martin UK has contracted Rheinmetall Defence to manufacture the turret structures (40mm medium-calibre) for the British Army’s new AJAX Reconnaissance vehicle. The order, issued in London, is worth a total of €130 million and covers production of up to 245 units. Rheinmetall also participated significantly in the preceeding technical demonstration phase. The first production unit is scheduled for completion in July 2016. Rheinmetall has extensive, longstanding experience in developing and manufacturing turret systems, prompting an important order in connection with a key programme of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The AJAX platform will be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the British Army on the battlefields of the future. It will be effective in the most difficult terrains around the world, providing all-weather intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities. Commenting on the unveiling of the AJAX platform, MoD Armoured Vehicles Head of Programmes, Maj.Gen. Talbot-Rice, said: “We are committed to supplying the Armed Forces with the very best equipment possible and are delivering on this by supplying the AJAX platform which will become their first fully digitised armoured fighting vehicle (AFV).”

The AJAX platform is one of six variants to be delivered to the British Army by GDUK from 2017 through 2024. It represents the future of AFV for the British Army. “We are delighted to unveil the AJAX prototype, which is another significant step in the on schedule delivery of a family of best-in-class platforms to the British Army,” Kevin Connell, vice president of General Dynamics Land Systems UK, said. “Working together with our industry partners, customer and end-user, we will deliver into service a platform that will enable the British Army to gather the information they need, when they need it, on the battlefields of the future.”

The range of AJAX variants will allow the British Army to conduct sustained, expeditionary, full-spectrum and network-enabled operations with a reduced logistics footprint.  It can operate in combined-arms and multinational situations across a wide-range of future operating environments.  The first British Army squadron will be equipped by mid-2019 to allow conversion to begin with a brigade ready to deploy from the end of 2020.

Saab has received an order from GDUK to provide Mobile Camouflage Systems for AJAX, deliveries are planned until 2022. The order for the Saab Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) is part of a September 2014 contract awarded to GDUK by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) covering the delivery of 589 AJAX platforms to the British Army. The vehicle platforms will be delivered to the British Army from 2017 through 2024. The contract between Saab and General Dynamics UK covers MCS systems for the first batch of vehicles to be acquired from the 589 total. “This order is a clear statement of trust in our skills and know-how. AJAX is one of the most modern armoured vehicle families to enter service in a NATO country, one designed to meet the toughest requirements and excel in all environments. We are proud that our Mobile Camouflage System meets the requirements to enhance the capabilities and mission readiness of these vehicles,” Görgen Johansson, head of Saab Business Area Dynamics said.

This order is recognition of our continuous development efforts to optimise the MCS and provide efficient survivability against the most potent threats. The contract is a result of the great cooperation between GDUK and Saab Barracuda since the start of the programme, along with all the efforts made in the ongoing demo phase,” Anders Wiman, head of Saab business unit Barracuda explained further.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and XPI to supply driver training simulator for AJAX

British Army Chief Gen. Nick Carter and Philip Dunne Minister of State for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence discussing the AJAX.
Driver training for the UK’s AJAX programme is to be provided on static and full motion simulators developed and provided by a team supported by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and lead by XPI Simulation, part of the Thales Group, following the award of a major simulator contract by prime contractor, GDUK. This multi-million pound contract will provide 28 sets of equipment with the first being delivered in 2017.  XPI Simulation as lead contractor is providing the software and the motion base whilst Marshall is providing the replica driver modules. Marshall Aerospace will be creating a high fidelity replica of the Drivers Compartment. The Driver Simulators will develop better driver awareness and familiarity with the vehicle, reduce training time and allow for quantitative evaluation of the driver’s aptitude prior to live training on an actual vehicle with the benefit that vehicle time can be more effective in terms of skills development. The role of the driver on AJAX will be significantly enhanced, compared to previous AFVs, as he will be able to manage the extensive suite of sensors and vehicle systems from his position using the screen based technology and the simulators are designed to provide full training to maximise his effectiveness. “Securing this contract on the UK’s largest current land programme confirms our capability to provide real engineered solutions,” Steve Fitz-Gerald, Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group informed. “Our knowledge of training and in particular part task trainers gives confidence that we will be able to deliver a high quality solution for this important simulator that will enable UK forces to maximise the benefits of the AJAX vehicle.

Marshall has a history of providing simulator solutions and part task trainers including for the WATCHKEEPER Ground Control Station, the WARRIOR OPV, the JACKAL, C-130, and A400M simulators and training.

Rolls-Royce brand MTU is to supply engines both for the AJAX (as well as for the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates). The Type 8V 199 TE21 engine is to be used in the AJAX  fighting vehicle. The unit is the most powerful in this engine series, setting the benchmark in its performance class. The outstanding power and reliability delivered by Series 199 engines have already been convincingly demonstrated in infantry fighting vehicles such the ULAN (Austria) and PIZARRO (Spain) as well as in the BOXER infantry fighting vehicle (Germany, Netherlands). MTU is to start deliveries of 589 engines from 2016. 

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