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Ajax Issues


Dawes
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We're having production problems because we don't want to pay for extensive prototype trials. Somehow everybody thinks they can nail it on the first try when there's absolutely no supporting evidence, and an overwhelming number of cases that suggest otherwise. Do they believe that "everybody else is stupid", or is it the cynical approach that everybody knows that the deadlines will be busted, anyway. As long as the program milestones are set as unrealistic as they are at the beginning of military procurement processes, when you bid for a project you'll get kicked out if you don't participate in the charade, for not conforming to the RFQ when all your competitors submit their bids with unrealistic promises.

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Look at it as a positive. Rather than procuring something and ignoring problems with it for years (as the MOD did with SA80 and Chieftain), they seem to be grabbing the nettle, as they did with the Challenger 2 procurement, and demanding the manufacturers fix it. Which is how its supposed to work.

 

On the further positive side, we enthusiast's get to enjoy Scimitar a bit longer....

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I am aghast.

 

It's well known everywhere that Lockheed Martin has had significant difficulties with both the WCSP and Ajax turrets - you don't normally expect the positive news for a turret that's not even in service yet to be that it's entering a reliability improvement programme when at that point they should have already been installing the bloody things.

 

Ajax has a number of issues beyond the turret, not least because the hull is built by GD Santa Barbara, and was supposed to be fully integrated there but politics moved that to Merthyr and left only the metal bending to the Spanish. Imagine how much care they have for something where most of the high value work was taken away.

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I am aghast.

 

It's well known everywhere that Lockheed Martin has had significant difficulties with both the WCSP and Ajax turrets - you don't normally expect the positive news for a turret that's not even in service yet to be that it's entering a reliability improvement programme when at that point they should have already been installing the bloody things.

 

Ajax has a number of issues beyond the turret, not least because the hull is built by GD Santa Barbara, and was supposed to be fully integrated there but politics moved that to Merthyr and left only the metal bending to the Spanish. Imagine how much care they have for something where most of the high value work was taken away.

 

That is the kiss of death - Santa Barbara has been doing appalling work since the 80s with zero quality control as its products were then forced upon the Spanish Army, who had to suck up and smile, so they did as little as possible for as much as they could get. Getting them to build the Leopards required several years of wrestling between the Army, Krauss Maffei and the directors and the tank ended up overweight. Recently, the got kicked out of the wheeled APC replacement for the (museum pieces by now) BMR in a contract with no competitors, and the whole thing had to be restarted anew as they were unable to work with the other providers.

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Recently, the got kicked out of the wheeled APC replacement for the (museum pieces by now) BMR in a contract with no competitors, and the whole thing had to be restarted anew as they were unable to work with the other providers.

 

Not anymore.....SBS is back in business with the Dragon VCR 8x8 (Piranha 5) :

https://defbrief.com/2020/05/13/spain-re-launches-8x8-vcr-dragon-program/

 

https://defpost.com/spanish-mod-green-lights-creation-of-company-to-execute-vcr-8x8-program/

 

Refusing SBS's original offer seemed like a pretty obvious atempt by the Spanish Army/ Spanish government to secure a better deal by forcing them to lower their bid.

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Wrt to the current AJAX debacle, if the current issues are wholly or partly a result of shoddy workmanship from SBS , there is always the option of having the AJAX hulls manufactured by Steyr in Austria in stead. AFAIK they built the Austrian armys Ulans and are known for excellent QC .

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Recently, the got kicked out of the wheeled APC replacement for the (museum pieces by now) BMR in a contract with no competitors, and the whole thing had to be restarted anew as they were unable to work with the other providers.

 

Not anymore.....SBS is back in business with the Dragon VCR 8x8 (Piranha 5) :

https://defbrief.com/2020/05/13/spain-re-launches-8x8-vcr-dragon-program/

 

https://defpost.com/spanish-mod-green-lights-creation-of-company-to-execute-vcr-8x8-program/

 

Refusing SBS's original offer seemed like a pretty obvious atempt by the Spanish Army/ Spanish government to secure a better deal by forcing them to lower their bid.

 

 

Money wasn't the issue as the budgets remains the same, the issue was around who should lead the program.

 

The main contractor was Indra (which is a systems company) but SBB would have nothing of it, not to speak about other providers (SAPA, Escribano) having input in the project, so the technology demostrator accumulated delay after delay (for example, the combat system was delivered a year ago, yet the prototype is still not ready). Eventually MOD had enough and ended the procurement contract as it was.

 

The rebooted version now has an independent corporation being set up to manage the whole thing, subcontracting the previous partners (much like Eurofighter GMBH) to see if finally they can move forward.

 

The cancellation justification was: The Program Office alleges that it does not meet the requirements of the Technical Specification Sheet (PTT), neither in the execution period nor in the number of prototypes and vehicles nor in the manufacturing order of the different configurations. There are also no financial guarantees that, in the event of any unforeseen event, it will not result in an increase in cost.

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Cmon...Magna Steyr or SEAT....sorry Spain is not culturally correct.

 

 

SBB is the worse of the worst of the Spanish defence industry.

 

It's in Spanish but google translate can probably work: https://ensantabarbarablog.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/ejercitos-del-mundo-historia-del-leopard-2-en-espana-parte-iii-septiembre-2010/

Edited by RETAC21
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I can't say more, but I think that there is enough wrong in the programme for the blame to be spread quite broadly.

 

Except the German winch design on the recovery variant. That's awesome.

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...Except the German winch design on the recovery variant. That's awesome.

Like a local informal description of the ZIL-135 tank transporter - truck is pretty bad, but it's trailer is really good. :)

Edited by bojan
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  • 11 months later...

So this is starting to look like the kid of death. Apologies for it being the sun and it's inherent inaccuracy, but it's not being denied by the Army.

thesun.co.uk/news/15123499/tanks-army-staggering-5-5billion-trials-halted-troops-sick-damage-hearing

 

NEW tanks which cost the Army £5.5billion were grounded after making troops sick and damaging their hearing.

 

Crews suffered nausea, swollen joints and tinnitus from the din and vibrations inside the Ajax armoured vehicles.

Trials were halted for the four months to March and test crews are now limited to 105 minutes inside, a source said.

All soldiers who has been in one must have a hearing test.

Only 14 of the 589 vehicles have so far been delivered. They are the Aries variant which has no turret.

Suspension troubles mean turrets on the others cannot fire when the tank is moving. The tanks are being made in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

The ordered — the biggest for armoured vehicles in more than 20 years — was made with General Dynamics.

An Army source said: “It’s a complete shambles

“The entire fleet has been out of action because of problems with the suspension and noise issues.

Soldiers who ride in the Ajax complain their hearing has been affected. Taxpayers’ money is being wasted on this scheme which isn’t working.”

Defence expert Francis Tusa said: “The noise problem is so bad  . . .  the noise cancelling earphones don’t work.”

 
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Please tell me someone is at least going to be shot...

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9 hours ago, bojan said:

Please tell me someone is at least going to be shot...

Probably not. We will probably blame the Spanish, and everyone else responsible will get a Knighthood.

If you think disarray in British AFV procurement is a new problem, then you really should read this someday.

https://archive.org/details/tankslogbookofpi00ster

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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7 hours ago, Dawes said:

I would think that this effort is somewhat like the F-35 - too big and too far along to cancel.

No, I think the plug will get pulled. In 1996 when Challenger 2 was being delivered, they found a number of problems in the fire control (Im not entirely clear what). MOD stopped procurement and pointed out to Vickers they were not going to accept another Challenger 1, and either it got fixed it or it was going to be cancelled. It was delayed for something like 2 years and they fixed the problem, and restarted procurement. Zero problems since.

I think the same thing will happen here, except I think the thing sounds to be so screwed up, its probably beyond saving. We will see.

To give credit to MOD, they have got quite good at stopping procurement of failing systems. The problem is  that, at least as far as AFV's, they keep procuring them. Or in the case of FRES, spend years procuring one then find they have gone down entirely the wrong rabbithole.

So after spending shitloads of money to bring AFV production back to the UK, we just pissed it away again. Wonderful.

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