The Ministry of Defence has announced that it will sustain 400 jobs in the UK by securing a multi-million pound missile contract for the production of new heat seeking missiles to international munitions manufacturer MBDA.
The deal is worth £184 million and will secure jobs throughout the UK, with US based MBDA providing the MOD with an additional stockpile of an updated version of the ASRAAM missile.
Beyond 2022, the Royal Navyâs F-35B Lightning II and Royal Air Force combat jets will be able to use the air to air weapon.
As part of a separate contract, work to integrate the UK-designed and manufactured ASRAAM onto the F-35 fleet will be delivered.
The contract comes as part of the MODâs £178 billion Equipment Plan, supported by a defence buget that will increase every year from now until 2020.
MBDA has an overarching agreement with the MOD that will preserve around 200 jobs at the firmâs sites in Bolton, Bristol and Stevenage, with another 200 jobs safeguarded in the supply chain.
MBDAâs forthcoming £40 million manufacturing site on the Logistic North commercial scheme in Bolton will carry out the work on the new ASRAAM stockpile.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, commented: Wholly designed and built in the UK, this air-to-air missile on our F-35 aircraft will secure cutting-edge air power for the UK for years to come.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the MODâs Defence Equipment and Support organisation, Tony Douglas, said that ASRAAM will provide crucial defensive and offensive options for UK F-35 pilots against a wide range of air to air threats.
Douglas continued: The project to update the weapon and integrate it with the F-35, the worldâs most advanced combat aircraft, provides a clear example of the MOD and UK industry working effectively together to provide our UK Armed Forces with the best equipment possible.