Lancashire’s plane makers are flying high this week – with three production lines now in full swing.
Hundreds of jobs have been been safeguarded with the return of production of the Hawk jet to BAE Systems’ Warton site for the first time in nearly six years.
It means the plane giant now has three military aircraft production lines at Warton and Samlesbury – Hawk, Typhoon and the F-35.
Around 50 workers have been assigned to the Hawk project in Warton, rising to 200 when production is in full swing.
With each £18m Hawk taking 60,000 man hours to complete, the production line will provide work for Lancashire employees for some years to come.
This week the Evening Post was invited in to see the production line up and running.
The Hawk advanced jet trainer is in demand all over the world – currently Saudi Arabia has ordered 30, and Oman eight. Until last year Hawks were built at the Military Air and Information division’s site at Brough, East Yorkshire.
But a scaling back in the Brough operation to led to work being transferred to Warton.
Some components of the Hawk are still made at Brough, and sent over to Lancashire for assembly.
Stephen Cox, rear fuselage production manager at Warton, said the move was good news for the Lancashire operation.
He said: “This is good fortune for us. When you get an order like this it safeguards and protects the current employment levels.”
It is unclear whether any jobs will be created in Lancashire – that would depend on the company’s overall orders.
But earlier this year the firm revealed its order backlog was worth a total of £43bn, which it said gave it great optimism for the future.
The first Warton-built Hawk is expected to be delivered in mid 2015.
The Hawk was first developed in 1974 and has clocked up 3.5 million flying hours.
There are currently 998 Hawks in service or on order from the Arctic Circle to the Tropics. Customers include Zimbabwe, Bahrain and India.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “This is great news for Warton and proves Fylde’s world class workforce remains very much at the heart of Typhoon and Hawk production.”
Around 11,500 workers are employed in the Military Air and Information division at Warton and Samlesbury.
*See Tuesday’s business supplement for the first pictures from the Hawk production line.