More than a thousand UK engineering and manufacturing jobs across the UK have been secured by a multi-million-pound Ministry of Defence contract to upgrade 2 fleets of military helicopters – Merlins and Apaches.
A £430 million contract will provide maintenance and support for the British Army’s Apache attack helicopter, which is currently used on operations in Afghanistan, for the next 5 years.
While on a visit to AgustaWestland’s factory in Yeovil, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond met with apprentices who are working at the company and who will play an important role in the work on the helicopters.
During his visit, Mr Hammond said:
The UK defence industry makes an important contribution to the economy, generating revenue of over £22 billion each year, and its highly skilled workforce plays a crucial part in growing our economy.
This investment will help secure British jobs, providing security to thousands of workers and their families.
This is also an important step in ensuring our armed forces have the best helicopters available, safeguarding the army’s attack helicopter capability and providing the Royal Navy and Royal Marines with an upgraded, modern Commando Helicopter Force.
The 25 upgraded Merlin helicopters will replace the Sea King Mk4 helicopters, which go out of service in 2016. The work will involve fitting new glass cockpits and avionics, a folding main rotorhead and tail, and an improved undercarriage.
The Merlins will be used to transport Royal Marines, vital supplies and cargo from sea to land.
The contract for the Apaches will provide operational support for the helicopters for the next 5 years, ensuring they are able to play a key role post-Afghanistan.