Army's new £3.5bn tanks WILL be delivered on time, Government insists

Army's new £3.5bn tanks WILL be delivered on time, Government insists

06/09/2021

Army’s new £3.5bn tanks WILL be delivered on time, Government insists – after leaked report said they can’t fire on the move, cannot exceed 20mph and make crews sick with noise

  • The Army’s £3.47 billion fleet of new tanks ‘will be delivered on time’
  • Leaked report claimed they were unable to travel safely faster than 20mph 
  • Crews were said to be suffering through noises so loud it made them feel sick
  • But Government whip Viscount Younger has sought to quell concerns and reassure MPs that the project is ‘on track and will be delivered on time’

The Army’s £3.47 billion fleet of new tanks ‘will be delivered on time’, the Government has insisted – despite a leaked report saying they cannot fire on the move or exceed 20mph, and make the crews sick with noise. 

Conservative frontbencher Viscount Younger of Leckie also confirmed a leak inquiry has been opened into how details of a report on the new Ajax armoured fighting vehicles became public.k

Problems with noise and vibrations have been reported in the tanks, with crews said to be suffering through noises so loud that it made them feel sick and are limited to 90 minutes inside them.  

A leaked internal report claimed the machines were unable to travel safely faster than 20 miles per hour – half the 40mph top speed.

The government had ordered more than 580 of the tanks in a range of US-designed models which are being built in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

But so far only 14 without turrets have been delivered because the project has been beset by delays and problems.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that it had to pause trials of the fleet over design issues.

But Government whip Viscount Younger has sought to quell concerns and reassure MPs that the project is ‘on track and will be delivered on time.’ 

Problems with noise and vibrations have been reported in the tanks, with crews said to be limited to 90 minutes inside them. Pictured: The new Ajax Army tank ordered by the Ministry of Defence

A leaked internal report claimed the machine were unable to travel safely faster than 20 miles per hour – half the 40mph top speed, and crew members were suffering noises so loud that it made them feel sick

They had decided to bring in a new range of tanks in 2010, with 589 vehicles across a range of models ordered in 2014, but the programme has been plagued by problems and is behind schedule.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Labour peer Lord Berkeley said: ‘I am surprised that we’ve got this far with this new development and we see this report, which has apparently come from the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA), which says this vehicle can’t reverse, maybe we don’t need to reverse any more, it can’t fire on the move and it can’t go more than 20 miles per hour and the soldiers inside it are limited because of the noise (and) do an hour-and-a-half in the tank.

‘What use is that on the battlefield? Are they going to put up a white flag and change staff before they continue?

‘The IPA has said ”the delivery of this project appears to be unachievable” and that’s rather different to what the minister has told the House that ”there are no plans to delay and we’re going to go on with it”.

‘We’re presumably going to continue with the order of 580 tanks and they will all be deployed this year.

Jeremy Quin, the minister for defence procurement, confirmed that crews testing out Ajax tanks, the new generation of armoured fighting vehicles, may have been exposed to excessive noise that made some sick

‘Isn’t it time we cancelled the whole thing and save the Government, the taxpayers, ourselves several billions?’

Government whip Viscount Younger replied: ‘First of all on the IPA report, just to remind the House that this came out as a result of the leak and by the way there is a full inspection going on as to how that leak came out.

‘In terms of the vehicle’s speed, Ajax is capable and will be capable of speeds of up to 70kph, but an initial limitation of 30kph was introduced as a control measure for newly-qualified household cavalry regiment crews – and that is in line with what I said earlier about this being the demonstration phase of this enormous project.

‘Secondly, on the rear step, the vehicle is capable of reversing over a vertical 0.75-metre step. Following some initial issues, this was restricted, again for the same reasons.

‘Similarly, on his point raised about firing on the move – it can and does fire on the move and the MoD has yet to certify the platform to perform this so it’s in line with what I said earlier.

‘Can I just reassure the House again that this major project is on track and will be delivered on time.’

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