26,000 attend BAE 'family day'

Thousands of aerospace workers and their families enjoyed a close-up look at some of the world's elite fighter jets.

More than 26,000 people attended a family open day held by defence giant BAE Systems at its base in Warton, near Preston, which employs 7,500 people.

Workers and their families were able to look at state-of-the-art projects including the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, now dubbed the Lighting II, the Hawk trainer jet and the new Nimrod MRA4 maritime surveillance plane. BAE head of communications Alison Ramsay said: "The talent at Warton and the contribution that people here make to the North West economy, and in turn the UK economy, is something we should never take for granted.

"It was a privilege to be part of the open day, and even the wet weather could not dampen the pride people visiting seemed to feel."

The visit was the first time in eight years that members of the public, albeit families of workers at the sites, have got the chance to take a glimpse behind the scenes of one of Lancashire's biggest employers.

BAE recently staged a similar day at its site in Samlesbury. In total more than 9,000 people work across the sites.

Visitors attending the Warton open also helped raise nearly 5,000 for the BAE Systems charity challenge.

The 700-acre site, located between Preston and Blackpool, is the headquarters of BAE's military aircraft business and the largest of the manufacturer's sites in the UK.

It is kitted out with a full range of systems integration, final assembly, flight test and support facilities.

As well as being the design centre for combat aircraft and research and development, there are a number of specialist test facilities on the site including a comprehensive range of hot gas and systems laboratories, electronic warfare facilities and wind tunnels.