Defence minister is ‘very concerned’ that no one knows why new £3.5billion army tanks are so noisy that they make crews sick and can’t be driven faster than 20mph
- Ministry of Defence ordered 580 Ajax tanks to be built in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
- But only 14 have so far received with full fleet delivery by 2024 hit by delays
- Leaked report found complaint noise making crews sick and 20mph speed limit
- Defence minister Jeremy Quin said he was ‘very concerned’ by the reports
- Labour accused Government of ‘failing forces and failing British taxpayers’
A minister has said government is ‘very concerned’ about noises and vibrations in new Army tanks that make them practically inoperable.
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.
The government has 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 £3.47 billion fleet of tanks over design issues
The government is ‘very concerned’ about noises and vibrations in new Army tanks that make them practically inoperable. 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.
Answering an urgent question on the Ajax programme, Mr Quin told the Commons: ‘We remain in the demonstration phase and, as with all such phases, issues have emerged with the vehicle that we need to resolve.
‘We were very concerned by reports of noise issues in the vehicle, all personnel who may have been exposed to excessive noise have been tested and training was paused.
‘It now continues with mitigations in place as we pursue resolution.’
He also said the Government has ‘commissioned independent vibration trials from world-class specialists’ which should conclude ‘next month’.
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
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
He told MPs that ‘we will not accept a vehicle that falls short of our requirements’ and added: ‘This is an important project for the British Army, delivering impressive capabilities and employing thousands of skilled workers across the UK.
‘We are looking forward to taking it into service.’
Shadow defence secretary John Healey accused the Government of ‘failing British forces and failing British taxpayers’.
Asking about the progress of the Ajax tanks programme, Mr Healey told the Commons: ‘£3.5 billion paid out, four years late and just 14 vehicles delivered, light tanks that can’t fire while moving and vehicle crews made so sick that the testing has been paused.’
He went on: ‘This is a project that has been flagged red by the Government’s own major projects authority, the defence select committee calls it another example of chronic mismanagement by the MoD (Ministry of Defence) and its shaky procurement apparatus, yet the Defence Secretary is failing to get to grip with the failures in the system and failing our frontline troops as a result.
‘He’s breaking a promise he made to them in this House when he said when it comes to equipment, the first thing to ensure is that we give our men and women the best to keep them alive and safe on the battlefield.
‘Ministers are failing British forces and failing British taxpayers,’ he added.
Conservative chairman of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood said he had argued for an increase of 3 per cent in the defence budget, adding: ‘But it does make the job harder of convincing the Treasury, Parliament and indeed the taxpayer when we see so many errors, delays, cost over runs and redesigns.’
SNP defence spokesman Dave Doogan said: ‘There is in the UK no shortage of MoD procurement debacles to draw on….but this multibillion pounds Ajax failure sets a new low.’
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