General Dynamics Ajax

The Ajax, formerly known as the Scout SV (Specialist Vehicle), is a family of armoured fighting vehicles being developed by General Dynamics UK for the British Army.[5]

Ajax
Pre-production prototype of the turreted Ajax variant
TypeArmoured fighting vehicle
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Production history
DesignerGeneral Dynamics Land Systems UK
ManufacturerGeneral Dynamics UK
Specifications
Mass38 tonnes with growth potential to 42 tonnes
Length7.62 m (25 ft 0 in)
Width3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
Height3.00 m (9 ft 10 in)
Crew2+4 passengers for PMRS variant[1]

Main
armament
CTA International CT40 40 mm (1.6 in) cannon
Secondary
armament
L94A1 coaxial 7.62 mm chain gun
Kongsberg Protector Remote Weapon Station (UK testing with Javelin ATGM[2][3][4])
EngineMTU Friedrichshafen 600 kW (800 bhp) V8 engine
TransmissionRENK 6 speed HSWL 256B
SuspensionTorsion bar

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' CV90 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.

Development history

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 CV90 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, system maturity and preliminary system design were reviewed. 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 Familyofficially completed its CDR. 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), 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 to be procured in a number of blocks totalling 1,010 vehicles. The first order of Block 1 vehicles encompassed Scout Reconnaissance, PMRS APC, and Repair and Recovery variants, with Reconnaissance, C2, and Ambulance variants to follow in a 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, in September 2014 Block 3 vehicles were dropped and the Ministry of Defence had "no plans" to order any Block 2 vehicles.

On 3 September 2014, the British Government ordered 589 Scout SV vehicles, totaling a cost of £3.5 billion excluding VAT. A number of Block 2 variants were merged into the Block 1 order, which still encompassed the planned 589 vehicles.

The variants ordered include:[6][7]

  • 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
    • 93 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) (Ares)
    • 112 Command and Control (Athena)[8]
    • 34 Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch (Ares)
    • 51 Engineer Reconnaissance (Argus)
  • 88 Engineering variants based on the PMRS
    • 38 Recovery vehicles (Atlas)
    • 50 Repair vehicles (Apollo)

Deliveries to the British Army began in 2017; the last deliveries were scheduled for around 2026.[9]

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. There was a business case for UK final assembly and testing. As part of a £390 million maintenance package running until 2024, General Dynamics moved production of the last 489 vehicles to Britain.[10] General Dynamics bought a former forklift factory in Pentrebach in South Wales to assemble the Scout SV.[11] Thales UK won the sight system contract for the Scout family, safeguarding engineering and manufacturing jobs at their site in Scotland.[12]

In early August 2015, Rheinmetall of Germany was contracted to manufacture the Scout SV turrets.[13]Meggitt was to manufacture the Scout SV ammunition handling system.[14]

On 15 September 2015, Scout was renamed Ajax.[15] The name Ajax appliedy to the family as a whole, but also to the turreted variant specifically. The reconnaissance support variant was named Ares; the command-and-control variant was named Athena; the equipment repair vehicle was named Apollo; the equipment recovery variant was named Atlas; and the engineering reconnaissance variant was named Argus.[15]

In April 2016, the main cannon and chain gun were fired successfully.[16] In December 2016, successful manned firing tests of the three machine guns which can be fitted to the Ares vehicle took place.[17]

General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) developed the Griffin II light tank and Griffin III IFV, based on Ajax. In 2019, GDLS offered the Grffin II to the US Army for its Mobile Protected Firepower program, and the Griffin III for the Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle program (to replace the M2/M3 Bradley).

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.[17]

Vehicle design

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.[18]

Operators

  •  United Kingdom - In development - 245 Ajax, 93 Ares, 112 Athena, 50 Apollo, 38 Atlas and 51 Argus ordered.[19]

See also

References

  1. "AJAX: The Future of Armoured Fighting Vehicles" (PDF). General Dynamics UK. Archived from the original (pdf) on 17 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  2. "Javelin missile completes ground vehicle launch tests for UK Army". Army-technology.com.
  3. "Appendix A Ajax - Weapons". ThinkDefence.
  4. "Ajax To MIV And The Emergence Of STRIKE". Think Defence.
  5. "Scout SV named Ajax [DSEI15, D2]". janes.com. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  6. "DSEI 2015: UK's Scout SV renamed Ajax as first turreted prototype unveiled - IHS Jane's 360". janes.com. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  7. at 10:50am, Georgina Coupe 21st October 2019. "All The Gen On The AJAX Military Vehicle". Forces Network. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  8. "DAjax uncovered: Detailing the British Army's" (PDF). IHS Janes. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  9. Nicholas de Larrinaga & Christopher F Foss (2014). "UK places GBP3.5 billion Scout SV order". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  10. "Scout SV to be assembled in UK" Jane's
  11. "David Cameron unveils £390m MoD deal creating 250 jobs". BBC News. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  12. "Thales UK receives Scout SV sights subcontract" Jane's
  13. de Larrinaga, Nicholas. "Rheinmetall contracted for Scout SV turrets". IHS Jane's 360. IHS Jane's. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  14. de Larrinaga, Nicholas. "Meggitt receives order for Scout SV ammunition handling system". IHS Jane's 360. IHS Jane's. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  15. "DSEI 2015: UK's Scout SV renamed Ajax as first turreted prototype unveiled". IHS Jane's. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  16. "AJAX successfully completes major live firing milestone". gov.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  17. "General Dynamics Land Systems–UK completes first AJAX programme manned live firing trial".
  18. Foss, Chris (September 2015). "On The Mend: British Army looks to refreshed AFVs, volume XLVIII, page XXXVIII". Janes Defence. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  19. 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.
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