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, which will begin assembling and testing the Army’s first fully digitised Ajax vehicle in 2017, was opened by Ministers from both the UK and Welsh Governments.
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.
Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said:
“The opening of this new facility is a major development for both Merthyr Tydfil and the British Army. It is another reminder of the importance of Defence investment right across the UK: the Ajax programme alone is sustaining 2,800 jobs across the country, 550 of which are here in Wales.
This new facility, like the next generation vehicle it will produce, is more evidence of our £178 billion commitment to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need. Thanks to the close partnership between the UK Government and industry, this site will spring back in to life as a significant centre of employment and bring in valuable skills with a lasting legacy for the entire region.”