The Ajax armoured vehicle is now a "procurement disaster of the first order" a former British officer in the Royal Tank Regiment has claimed. Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford was speaking after the Government confirmed payments towards the £5.5 billion vehicle cost are set to resume - with defence procurement minister Alex Chalk insisting the troubled project had "turned a corner."
On Monday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it will hand over £480 million this month, having halted payments to General Dynamics more than two years ago.
The vehicles had been due to enter service in 2017 - but their introduction has been repeatedly delayed, with problems including noise and vibration which injured soldiers.
The MoD now anticipates the first vehicles will be rolled out from July 2025.
Lt Col Crawford told Express.co.uk: "It's a procurement disaster of the first order.
"Continuing with the project is more to do with trying to preserve individual and organisational reputations than getting a decent vehicle for the British army into service.
"If it ever does get accepted for service it will be obsolescent and forever tainted."
He continued: "We should have pulled the plug on it long ago but nobody is brave enough to do so.
"Successive Chiefs of the General Staff should have intervened."
Speaking earlier this week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Having worked closely with General Dynamics to address the issues, I am pleased to say that we are making progress and are now on course to see the delivery of a suite of hundreds of battle-ready vehicles for the British Army."
In a written statement to MPs, Mr Chalk said payments would resume with a payment of roughly half what has been held back since December 2020.
He explained: "Given the satisfactory progress against the programme, the department will resume payments this month, starting with a payment of £480 million.
"Restarting payments to General Dynamics reflects the fact that the programme continues to return to a firm footing and supports the delivery of the schedule to deliver operational capability."
He said further payments for 589 of the fighting vehicles would be made against a "new schedule and its milestones", he added.
He declared: "The Ajax programme is turning a corner, but this does not remove the need for the department to identify and learn lessons."
In response, Labour claimed Government was "failing British taxpayers and British troops".
Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: "The Conservatives are shelling out billions more of taxpayers' money on a project which is already six years late and won't fully deliver until the end of this decade.
"The Defence Secretary has made Ajax central to the future of the Army and the UK's ability to fulfil our Nato obligations, yet after 13 years and £4 billion investment the Army has still not got a single deployable vehicle.
"It is clear the Government can't deliver value for public money or the equipment our forces need to fight."
A British Army press release earlier this week said subject to contract amendment, "Initial Operating Capability will be achieved between July and December 2025", while reliability growth trials "continue to progress well".
Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith said: "I am pleased and excited to see Ajax progress through the Reliability and Growth Trials.
"Ajax is the heart of the Army's modernisation programme, significantly enhancing our surveillance and strike capability."2023-03-25T09:12:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd