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UK MoD does not know when Ajax will be delivered, according to NAO

Delivering the Ajax programme is “a significant challenge” for the UK MoD, according to the NAO. (Crown Copyright)

Delivering the Ajax programme is “a significant challenge” for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), which does not know when the armoured vehicle will be delivered, the National Audit Office (NAO) said in a statement on 11 March.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said, “The Ministry of Defence and GDLS-UK's [General Dynamics Land Systems-UK's] approach was flawed from the start. They did not fully understand the scale or complexity of the Ajax programme, and a series of failures have led to delays and unresolved safety issues that will have a significant impact on the army's ability to use the vehicles.”

The NAO noted that the MoD's original capability requirements for Ajax were highly specified, numbering around 1,200, “making Ajax more complex than other armoured vehicles”. Furthermore, the MoD and GDLS-UK did not fully understand some of these requirements, which led to many changes to the design specification, causing disputes, with the time taken to agree to design changes contributing to programme delays, according to the NAO.

“The MoD and GDLS-UK did not understand the scale of work or technical challenge, so sufficient contingency was not built into the programme schedule,” the NAO said. “Milestones were missed because it took longer than GDLS-UK expected to undertake design work, complete testing, resolve defects, and manage supply chain disputes. GDLS-UK told the NAO that this was because the MoD's standards were not fully defined and subject to change. However, the department repeatedly found GDLS-UK's safety documentation insufficient.”

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