The army’s £3.5bn new tanks WILL be delivered on time, government insists – after a leaked report said they can’t fire en route, go no faster than 20mph and make crew sick from noise
- Army’s fleet of new £3.47 billion tanks ‘will be delivered on time’
- Leaked report claimed they couldn’t travel faster than 20mph safely
- The crews were said to be bothered by noises so loud they made them nauseous
- But government whip Viscount Younger has tried to allay concerns and reassure MPs that the project is ‘on track and will be delivered on time’.
The army’s fleet of new £3.47 billion tanks “will be delivered on time,” the government has insisted – despite a leaked report saying they can’t fire or reach more than 20 mph along the way, and the noise can make crews sick.
Conservative frontbencher Viscount Younger of Leckie also confirmed that a leak investigation has been opened into how details of a report on Ajax’s new armored fighting vehicles became public.k
Noise and vibration problems have been reported in the tanks, with crews experiencing noises so loud they made them nauseous and allowed to sit in the tanks for only 90 minutes.
A leaked internal report claimed the machines couldn’t safely go faster than 20 miles per hour — half the top speed of 40 mph.
The government had ordered more than 580 of the tanks in a series of US-designed models to be built at Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.
But so far only 14 have been delivered without turrets as the project has been plagued by delays and problems.
The Department of Defense (MoD) confirmed it had to suspend trials of the fleet due to design issues.
But the government whip Viscount Younger has tried to allay the concerns and reassure MPs that the project is “on schedule and will be delivered on time”.
Noise and vibration issues have been reported in the tanks, with the crew reportedly staying in the tanks for up to 90 minutes. Pictured: The new Ajax army tank ordered by the Ministry of Defence
A leaked internal report claimed the machine couldn’t safely go faster than 20 miles per hour – half the top speed of 40 mph, and crew members made noises so loud it made them nauseous
They had decided to launch a new line of tanks in 2010, with 589 vehicles across a range of models ordered in 2014, but the program has been plagued with problems and is behind schedule.
In the House of Lords, Labor peer Lord Berkeley said: ‘I am amazed that we have come this far with this new development and we see this report, which apparently comes from the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA), which says this vehicle can don’t back up, maybe we don’t have to back up anymore, it can’t fire while it’s driving and it can’t go more than 20 miles per hour and the soldiers in it are limited because of the noise (and) put an hour and a half in the tank.
‘What good is that on the battlefield? Are they going to put up a white flag and switch staff before moving on?
“The IPA has said ‘the completion of this project seems unachievable'” which is quite different from what the minister has told the House that “there are no plans to delay it and we are going ahead with it”.
“We will probably continue with the order for 580 tanks and they will all be deployed this year.
Defense Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin confirmed that crews testing Ajax tanks, the new generation of armored fighting vehicles, may have been exposed to excessive noise that sickened some.
“Isn’t it time we cancel the whole thing and save the government, the taxpayers and ourselves several billions?”
Government whip Viscount Younger replied: “First of all about the IPA report, just to remind the House that this came out as a result of the leak and by the way that a full inspection is underway as to how that leak came out.
In terms of vehicle speed, Ajax is capable and will be able to reach speeds of up to 70 km/h, but an initial 30 km/h limit was introduced as a control measure for newly qualified domestic cavalry regiment crews – and that corresponds to what I mentioned earlier that this is the demonstration phase of this huge project.
‘Secondly, the vehicle can back up on the rear step over a vertical step of 0.75 metres. After some initial problems, this was curtailed, again for the same reasons.
Likewise, on his point about firing en route – it can and will fire while en route and the Department of Defense has yet to certify the platform to perform this so it is consistent with what I said earlier.
‘May I reassure the House that this major project is on schedule and will be delivered on time.’