A disused forklift truck factory in Wales has been officially opened as a specialist engineering hub for the British Army’s next generation of armoured vehicles.
The opening will create 250 new and highly skilled jobs.
Following a £390 million commitment to the Ajax armoured vehicle by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), General Dynamics UK decided to turn the former Linde Forklift Truck factory in Merthyr Tydfil into an assembly, integration and testing centre for Ajax. The site will begin assembling and testing the Army’s first fully digitised Ajax vehicle in 2017.
In addition to the 250 jobs being created at the Merthyr Tydfil facility, the Ajax build programme is sustaining 300 jobs at General Dynamics in nearby Oakdale, and a further 2,250 jobs at more than 210 companies across the UK supply chain.
The British Army will receive 589 Ajax vehicles which will come in six variants and replace the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked). Ajax will form a central component of the UK’s new Strike Brigades announced in the Strategic Defence and Spending Review at the end of last year.
The 589 Ajax vehicles will be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the British Army on the battlefields of the future. The new vehicle will give the army enhanced intelligence, surveillance, protection, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities, and it will be able to defend itself with a highly effective 40-millimetre cannon, which was developed jointly with France.
To date, the MOD has committed £4.5 billion in contracts with General Dynamics to deliver the Ajax vehicle. The first vehicle is expected to be completed at the Merthyr Tydfil facility in 2018, with the first Army units to receive the vehicle equipped by mid-2019 and ready to deploy from the end of 2020.