Defence giant, BAE Systems has signed a £1.6 billion contract to supply Hawk aircraft to Saudi Arabia, saving over 200 U.K. jobs.
It is a substantial win for the British defence giant, as the deal offers some welcome relief to the struggle against shrinking European and American defence budgets and fierce competition. The firm, which has a Hawk site at Brough in North Yorkshire, has told the deal comprises the supply of 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and 22 Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft, and also includes spares and technical support.
Previously, BAE was ending manufacture of the Hawk training jets at its Brough factory in 2013, with the loss of 865 jobs. Planes have been made at the plant for almost 100 years. Now with this deal, the company had said on Wednesday that 218 jobs at the Brough factory had been saved until mid-2015 and 73 more employees could be offered transfers to plants in Lancashire. According to a Unite trade union official, hundreds of jobs were still at risk.
Prime Minister, David Cameron has told MPs the deal was “more good news for British jobs, for British investment and British Aerospace”.
A Saudi defence ministry official, has quoted that the deal would help its pilots “to use fourth generation jet fighters in full professionalism and efficiency.”
Deliveries of the Pilatus, a turboprop trainer, will start in 2014, and the Hawk, built by BAE in the U.K., from 2016.
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