Weapons manufacturer MBDA has been awarded a trio of contracts worth more than half a billion pounds in a major boost for the UK’s defence industry.
More than 130 British jobs across the country will be sustained by the three contracts, which are worth a combined £539m.
Sir Michael Fallon, the secretary of state, said the contracts “demonstrate that a strong defence and a strong economy go hand in hand”.
The deal comes less than a year after MBDA secured a separate £184m order that guaranteed 400 jobs.
The first of the new contracts will see MBDA produce Meteor air-to-air missiles for Britain’s new F-35 stealth fighters as part of a £41m deal. These will enter service on the Typhoon fighter aircraft next year, and will be added to the F-35B in 2024.
A £175m support contract for the Sea Viper weapon will see the maintenance and overhaul, when required, of the Royal Navy’s anti-air defence system.
A £323m deal will see the Ministry of Defence purchase the next batch of CAMM defence missiles, which will be designed and manufactured at MBDA UK sites in Bolton, Stevenage and Henlow.
“This substantial investment in missile systems is vital in protecting our ships and planes from the most complex global threats as our Armed Forces keep the UK safe,” said Sir Michael.
“Backed by our rising defence budget, these contracts will sustain high-skilled jobs across the UK and demonstrate that strong defence and a strong economy go hand in hand.”
The UK’s defence budget increased for the first time in six years last year, to £35.1bn. It is due to rise by around £1bn each year until 2021.
MBDA, which is jointly owned by BAE Systems, Airbus and Leonardo, has 10,000 employees across six countries, and an order book worth more than £13bn.
Dave Armstrong, the managing director of its UK business, said the contracts would “help to secure hundreds of high-skilled people at MBDA UK and in the UK supply chain, maintaining the UK’s manufacturing base and providing us with a platform for exports”.