A WELSH MP says a decision "has to be taken" on the future of the Ajax armoured vehicle programme.

More than 500 of the lightweight reconnaissance vehicles are being built in Wales for the British Army, but after a series of delays - including testing problems that injured soldiers - only 26 vehicles have been delivered, and these can only be used for training purposes.

An influential committee of MPs told the Ministry of Defence earlier this month to "fix or fail" the controversial Ajax scheme, which has so far cost £3.2 billion and is yet to deliver a single battlefield-ready vehicle.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Islwyn MP and shadow defence minister Chris Evans said ongoing uncertainty over the programme was causing problems for workers at General Dynamics, the firm building the vehicles at sites in Oakdale and Merthyr Tydfil.

After defence secretary Ben Wallace told the Commons the UK Government had stopped payments to General Dynamics in December 2020, Mr Evans said the ongoing dispute of Ajax's future was "not sustainable in the local economy or the Welsh economy".

READ MORE: MP says £3bn spent on Ajax military vehicles same cost as 12 hospitals

Mr Evans added: "It is causing real anxiety amongst the workers there and also the wider economy and local supply chain. Just when will the government give an answer about what they’re going to do about Ajax?

"I think anybody who has anything to do with Ajax will say after 12 years - enough is enough, a decision has to be taken."

The Ajax armoured fighting vehicle, which is made by General Dynamics in Oakdale and Merthyr Tydfil. Picture: PA WireIslwyn MP Chris Evans (left) and UK defence secretary Ben Wallace. Pictures: Parliament (left)/PA Wire (right)

Mr Wallace replied: "I understand not only the member opposite’s frustration but also the workforce in Wales as well, who are hoping to or wanted to produce a vehicle not only fit for purpose, but also to add to the British Army’s important capability. We have to proceed based on science and evidence.

"We are bound, like General Dynamics, to a contract and I don’t want to say anything that would jeopardise those positions.

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“We have done independent trials. When those results are forthcoming, then we can obviously have any further discussion.

"I met with the head of General Dynamics recently and made it very, very clear my position on what the next steps are.

"As I have said from the beginning, we won’t accept into service a vehicle that is not fit for purpose.”

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