The new armored vehicle to be inducted by the British Army has got its priorities wrong. Instead of instilling fear in the enemy, it is instilling sickness in the personnel who travel inside. Surely, this won't make it to our list of best tanks you won't want to face in battle.
While this wasn’t a planned feature, the excessive vibration and noise inside the Ajax armored vehicle are causing tinnitus - the ringing of the ears and nausea in the crew it carries.
The Ajax is a 38-ton vehicle with a 40-millimeter gun. It is supposed to be an improvement of the ASCOD 2 and includes heavier armor. However, a BBC report suggests that this additional armor is the root cause of the issues faced.
An internal report about the problems with Ajax was first released by The Sun. Apart from the vibration and noise issues, it also exposes some other problems with the vehicle such as its inability to reverse over an obstacle that is 7 inches (20 cm) high. The vehicle also has suspension problems that do not allow the gun to fire while the vehicle is moving.
But it is the vibration and noise that have caused the most issues. The trials were previously halted as the crews complained of aching joints and temporary hearing loss. After a four-month halt, the trials were resumed in March but with stricter restrictions on vehicle usage. Crews cannot spend more than 90 minutes inside the vehicle that can maintain a top speed of 20mph (32.1 kmph), less than half of its top speed. The Sun reports that all members of the crew take a hearing test after traveling inside the Ajax.
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) had initially contracted this work in 2014. However, issues with the vehicles have resulted in higher scrutiny of the work done by the contractor, General Dynamics. The MoD is spending £5.5 billion on 589 of these armored vehicles. So far, only 14 have been delivered with issues.
The project was aimed to modernize the British Army with a fleet of reconnaissance vehicles by 2023/24. But a review report by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority called it an “unachievable” goal in terms of cost, time, and quality.
Having spent over £3.5 billion already, the Army and MoD remain committed to the project and are hopeful of achieving initial operating capability soon. They have been working with General Dynamics to resolve these issues.
General Dynamics UK said: "Recent trials have confirmed many of the required capabilities across the Ajax Family of Vehicles, including operations across the full range of speed and reverse step obstacle climb.