Following the Government statement on the Ajax armoured vehicle procurement programme and the need to resolve noise and vibration problems, James Sunderland seeks an indication from the Minister when the vehicles will declare Initial Operating Capability (IOC) - the minimum requirement for them to be deployed for use.
It is relatively unprecedented for such a new and expensive platform not to make its projected IOC date because of a special report on health and safety. Does the Minister agree that there are many failures in the whole process, and could he please assure me of when IOC might be—any indication at all—because this is ultimately about the delivery of equipment to the frontline?
Earlier this year I made a point of saying that, on Ajax, I did not want any IOC to be declared without its going through my office to ensure that I personally, as well as everyone else, was fully satisfied we had kit that would work. That was made clear early on, and I have made it clear when issues have re-emerged that under no circumstances would we be taking into IOC a vehicle that was not fit for purpose and that we need to find a pathway to long-term resolutions on noise and vibration. That is what my hon. Friend would want me to say. It is what the British Army would want me to say; it wants to have vehicles that work and are reliable. The flipside is that I cannot therefore, sadly, give my hon. Friend a date. What I can do is give him my assurance that we will have something that works and meets our specifications when we put it into IOC.