A Lancashire MP has called on the Government to start work now on the next generation of fighter jets to protect Britain’s hi-tech skills base and jobs in the county.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies was speaking in a Defence Aerospace Industrial Strategy debate in Parliament and called for a long-term project which would sustain jobs at BAE System’s Warton site where around 6,000 people employed.
The firm has said 700 jobs in the county are under threat due to a slowdown in Typhoon orders.
In the debate, Mr Menzies said: “The former Prime Minister David Cameron visited my constituency on three occasions, all of them to BAE Systems in Warton. That was how highly he regarded it.
“On his final visit, he outlined the Government’s commitment to a sixth-generation fighter aircraft.
“I urge the minister to ensure that we continue to work to make good on that commitment to deliver it, and I say that not just to keep the United Kingdom secure, but as someone who has had the privilege of visiting RAF Akrotiri and has seen Typhoons and Tornadoes keeping safe the people who are at risk of harm from ISIS.
“I thank the minister for her support and for the Government’s support of work in the incredibly competitive defence export markets around the world.”
But he said engineering and design skills needed to be kept in use or lost, and development work such as that with France on unmanned aerial combat vehicles must be secured and then put into what will be the sixth generation of aircraft to follow on from Typhoon rather than off the shelf solutions.
He said without a strong hi-tech skills base the UK could never get a decent share of the work on projects such as the US led F-35 fifth generation aircraft.
He said: “Having our own ability is absolutely critical.”