DVD 2018: GDLS UK displays first production standard Ajax variants

The Ajax programme includes six variants: Ajax (reconnaissance), Ares (troop carrier), Apollo (recovery), Athena (information management), Atlas (engineer) and Argus (engineering information). The role indicated between brackets is a simplification. Each Ajax variant is a highly-agile, tracked, medium-weight armored fighting vehicle, providing British troops with state-of-the-art, best-in-class protection. The Ajax vehicles are developed upon a highly-adaptable and capable Common Base Platform, maximising commonality in mobility, electronic architecture and survivability that ensures the British Army has a family of world-class platforms.

General Dynamics displayed four variants of the Ajax family among the six created (Picture source: Army Recognition)

DVD 2018: Lockheed Martin delivers first production turrets to British Army Ajax | DVD 2018 Show Daily News Coverage | Defence security military exhibition 2018 daily news category

Each Ajax platform variant has extensive capabilities, including acoustic detectors, a laser warning system, a local situational awareness system, an electronic countermeasure system, a route marking system, an advanced electronic architecture and a high-performance power pack. The family of vehicles has growth inherently built in. With an upper design limit of 42 tonnes of driveline capability, scalable and open electronic architecture and a modular armour system, it has enormous potential to combat future threats and incorporate new technology throughout the lifespan of the platform.

As a result, Ajax provides the kind of growth capability that the user will need to face the uncertain challenges of Future Force 2020 and beyond. It will replace the less capable CVR(T) family, providing broad utility throughout the balanced Army 2020 force across all operations.

GDLS UK Vice-President Kevin Connell told Jane’s on 19 September, “The first production standard Ares will be delivered in Q4 this year.” The company displayed the first production standard Ajax reconnaissance, Apollo command and control, Ares personnel carrier, and Atlas repair vehicles at DVD 2018.

In September 2014, General Dynamics UK was awarded £3.5 billion to deliver 589 Ajax platforms to the British Army. In July 2015, it was awarded a further £390 million contract to provide in-service support for the AJAX fleet until 2024. In addition, the company announced that it is opening a new Armoured Fighting Vehicle Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) facility in South Wales. The Ajax programme was originally known as the SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (SV) programme. It was renamed at DSEI on 15 September 2015.

Alan Lines, vice-president and managing director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site, stated, “Our technology leading turret contributes significantly to the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance [ISTAR], survivability, and combat capabilities of Ajax.”

Ajax becomes the medium-weight core of the British Armys deployable Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. It enables the soldier to be at the point of collection of accurate all-weather commander information within a network-enabled digitised platform. It provides commanders with a survivable and capable Ground Mounted Manned Reconnaissance (GMMR) platform, which gives them the flexibility to perform a range of roles across the spectrum of conflict.

Ajax is the first entirely digital armoured platform in the world and, despite the fact that it carries a large array of mission systems, GDLS UK reports that user feedback indicates that training is relatively straightforward.

The primary role of Ajax is to provide accurate and timely information to support decision-making at all levels. It integrates a range of leading-edge technologies to provide an optimised survivable, lethal and agile ISTAR platform. The panoramic Primary Sight provides advanced all-weather imaging technology capability, which allows the Ajax variant to find, engage and target at far greater ranges than the current UK Ministry of Defence core legacy platforms.

General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) UK displayed the first four production standard variants of the Ajax armoured fighting vehicle at the DVD 2018 exhibition held at the UK’s Millbrook Proving Ground on 19-20 September.

A sophisticated, neatly packaged Electronic Architecture makes it the first fully-digitised land platform that is able to seamlessly integrate both current and future open system ISTAR and communication products. Enhanced and modular survivability technologies ensure it will survive both current and future threats. Lethality is provided by the 40mm cannon integrated into a revolutionary, user-defined, fightable turret. Where the operation dictates, a fully stabilised Remote Weapons Station can be fitted to the turret instead of the Primary Sight.

Also on 19 September, Lockheed Martin UK announced that it had delivered the first eight production standard Ajax turrets to GDLS UK, full-rate production of which is expected to be reached in 2019.

The training establishment and first squadron will be equipped by mid-2019 to allow conversion to begin with a brigade ready to deploy from the end of 2020.

Lockheed Martin UK has delivered the first production turrets for the Armys new Ajax vehicles to prime contractor General Dynamics Land Systems. The company is under contract to manufacture, test and certify 245 turrets for the reconnaissance variant of the Ajax fleet. With the first eight turrets now successfully delivered, the production rate at the companys facility in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, will steadily increase, with full rate production being achieved during 2019.

Janes may also share the information you provide with carefully selected third party companies. Please indicate if you wish to be excluded from receiving third party communications.

Lockheed Martin UK has delivered the first production turrets for the Armys new Ajax vehicles to prime contractor General Dynamics Land Systems. (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes

Announcing the achievement at DVD 2018 in Millbrook, Alan Lines, Vice President and Managing Director of Lockheed Martins Ampthill site, said: Weve invested a huge amount in our people, our systems and our site so that we continue to remain a world-leader in armoured fighting vehicle systems, from design and development, through to build, integration, test and in-service support including training and spares. We delivered the first turret in March, followed by a further seven turret deliveries in recent months, and two more are now ready to be shipped. The build rate is now ramping up as we move towards full rate production. The fully digitised turrets have been designed and developed by Lockheed Martins highly skilled engineers at the companys Bedfordshire facility which is home to a multi-million-pound manufacturing capability with a state-of-the-art production line and a highly-skilled team. The Ajax turret offers soldiers unparalleled situational awareness and includes the new CT40 weapon system. The CT40s enhanced capabilities make it the most capable medium calibre cannon in the market. It comes with a fully stabilised 40mm cased telescoped cannon that allows rapid selection and firing from a range of ammunition effects and is capable of firing on the move. It engages further away than its equivalent 30mm, it engages faster, and it uses significantly less rounds to achieve the required effect. Alan Lines continues: Our technology-leading turret contributes significantly to the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR), survivability and combat capabilities of Ajax. Were immensely proud of the team and the work were doing to support this essential capability for the British Army. Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said in his speech made on the first day: Ajax is the UKs biggest order of armoured vehicles in a generation, supporting thousands of jobs across the country and modernising our frontline fleet. Having been expertly produced just a few miles away in the same county, it is apt that this first batch of turrets have been delivered in time for Bedfordshires Army showcase, marking another step towards bringing these vehicles onto the battlefield. The Ajax turret shares commonality with the upgraded turret developed by Lockheed Martin UK for the Ministry of Defences Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP). Lockheed Martin UK is the prime contractor for the WCSP programme, which is currently in its development phase.