Double boost for BAE Systems after £2.4bn contract

Defence giant BAE Systems has been given a double boost after two major announcements affecting the North West.

The firm has been awarded a £1.5bn contract for delivery of the seventh Astute class submarine – and a further £900m for the next phase of the Dreadnought submarine programme.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the contracts yesterday during a visit to the company’s submarine site in Barrow-in-Furness.

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And in a separate move,the head of Lockheed Martin in the UK has played down fears that British orders for the F-35 fighter may be scaled back. Parts of the American F-35 are built in Lancashire and shipped over to the USA for final assembly.

BAE Systems employs around 10,000 workers in Lancashire at its Warton and Samlesbury sites.

Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Submarines managing director, said: “Securing this latest funding for our submarines programmes is excellent news for BAE Systems and the 8,700 people in our Submarines business, as well as our local community in Barrow and the thousands of people across our UK supply chain who help deliver these nationally important programmes for the Royal Navy.

Meanwhile, the UK’s £9.1billion programme to buy 48 F-35, the world’s most advanced warplane, by 2025, has come under fire over capability and expense.

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With a pledge to purchase 138 of the jets from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the chief of the British arm of the company said he was quietly confident those numbers would not drop.

Speaking to the Press Association, Peter Ruddock said: “I am quietly confident that we will see F-35 being delivered in the numbers that we anticipate for some time to come.”

Mr Ruddock said signs from the Ministry of Defence gave him confidence that the pledge stood.