AJAX

View of British Ajax, showing extensive armor protection and 40 mm main weapon. Nothing shouts “Scout” better!

Ajax with catalogue system installed. The extensive array of sensors available to the commander and gunner can be seen on the turret.

The PMRS ‘Ares’ APC. Protection levels, vehicle configuration and mobility are equivalent to the baseline Ajax vehicle. The Ares is armed with a Kongsberg Protector Remote Weapon Station, which is operated by the vehicle commander.

The 40 mm CTA International cannon and some of the telescoped ammunition that it can fire, including from left to right a high explosive round, airbursting round (anti-personnel), APFSDS round and practise rounds. There is also an anti-aircraft round. The CT40 is appreciable lighter and more compact that other 40 mm cannon, reducing weight and space claim requirements when integrating it onto armored vehicles.

The Ajax or Scout SV (Specialist Vehicle) is a family of armored vehicles being designed and manufactured by General Dynamics – UK for the British Army. The vehicle was developed from the ASCOD armored vehicle, designed and built by Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Austria and Santa Bárbara Sistemas of Spain for the Spanish and Austrian militaries. The first Ajax vehicles were to be delivered to the British Army in 2017, with a total of 589 to be built and delivered until 2026. The vehicle is protected to a high level and armed with a unique 40 mm cannon that incorporates a rotating breach loading mechanism and fires compact telescoped ammunition.

The Ajax is a 92,000 pound (42 tonne) vehicle that is 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, 11 feet (3.35 meters) wide and 10 feet (3 meters) in height. Powered by an MTU 600 kW 8V engine the vehicle is equipped with a Renk 256B transmission and a torsion bar suspension system. The vehicle will be manufactured in a wide number of variants, where the turreted variants are crewed by a commander, gunner and a driver and the support styled variants (not possessing the 40 mm turreted weapon) are crewed by a commander and driver, where the commander operates the Remote Weapon Station.

Designed to accommodate modern computerised communication networks, essential to co-ordinating modern forces, the Ajax possess ample sensors and a 20 Gbs/s Ethernet intelligent open architecture. This provides the vehicle the ability to accumulate, process and store 6 TBs of sensor data, which can then be exchanged in real time with other vehicles similarly equipped with an integrated BOWMAN communicate suite. This system is similarly installed on the British Warrior IFV and Challenger 2 MBT.

The family of Ajax vehicles is comprised of turreted and unturreted vehicles. All turreted configurations are referred to as ‘Ajax’, while other configurations have their own unique names, which all start with the letter ‘A’ and are all based on Greek mythology. There are to be 245 turreted Ajax vehicles built, 198 of which consist of the basic Reconnaissance variant, 23 of a Fire Support variant and 24 of a Surveillance variant. The planned unturreted vehicles are referred to as Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) and Engineering vehicles and include 59 APCs (to be named ‘Ares’), 124 Command and Control vehicles (‘Athena’), 51 Engineering vehicles (‘Argus’), 34 Overwatch vehicles (‘Ares’), 38 Recovery vehicles (‘Atlas’) and 50 Repair vehicles (‘Apollo’).

The main weapon on the AJAX turreted reconnaissance vehicle is the 40 mm CTA International CT40 cannon. CTA International is a joint venture company involving collaboration between Nexter of France and BAE Systems of the UK. The CT40 is able to fire 40 mm “telescoped” ammunition. Telescoped ammunition is a relatively newly developed ammunition which is shorter and generally lighter than traditional cartridges, thereby increasing the amount of ammunition that can be carried in a vehicle for a given calibre weapon. Telescoped ammunition involves partially or completely enveloping the projectile within the propellant. The CTA International CT40 cannon is aimed by a Fire Control System (FCS) and the vehicle is equipped with a state of the art ISTAR package. This suite of sophisticated sensors provides the crew the ability to perform automated search, tracking and detection functions, effectively doubling the range at which targets can be identified and tracked.Loading ammunition through a Rotating Trunnion, permitting for rapid automatic reloading without requiring linked belted ammo (example of which is shown in the lower right most image).

The CT40 has a unique loading mechanism which involves a rotating trunnion located in the breach of the weapon. This design approach permits for rapid loading of the weapon without requiring a linked belted system, further reducing weight. The principle of the rotating trunnion is shown below. As this is a relatively new system there are concerns that the reliability of the loading system may initially suffer from teething problems.

The secondary weapon of the Ajax is the L94A1 coaxial 7.62 mm chain gun, being a long barrelled version of the Hughes EX-34 7.62 mm chain gun. The L94A1 is also mounted to the British Challenger MBT and British Warrior AFV. The EX-34 was designed specifically to be used as a coaxial weapon and therefore has certain features that are optimized for this function that are not found in other weapons that are retrofit for this application. When misfiring occurs the dud rounds are simply ejected from the chamber rather than requiring manual clearing. All gases generated by firing of the gun are also expelled through the barrel and therefore do not enter the crew area. The rate of fire is also much higher than is the case for most AFV co-axial guns.

The AJAX Scout SV is considered to be one of the best protected IFVs developed to date. The vehicle integrates recently developed protection technologies to protect the vehicle and its occupants from a wide range of threat types. The modularly designed armor system provides 360 degree protection against ballistic threats, artillery splinters, IEDs, anti-tank mines, and shaped charge warheads. The crew and occupants are isolated from blast attack by being positioned in energy attenuating seating. The vehicle is also equipped with a wide range of sensors to detect approaching threats including acoustic detection, thermal sights and local situational awareness sensors. The modular armor components are add-on and therefore can be tailored to meet specific anticipated threat scenarios. The vehicles are also being built with additional payload available to accommodate upgrading the vehicle protection as required to meet emerging threat situations and to incorporate newly evolving armor systems.

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