BAE Systems workers were celebrating after the company secured a £125m contract extension to maintain support for the RAF’s fleet of Tornado GR4 bombers.
It means engineers based in the Fylde, where the aircraft were originally built, will be called on to help maintenance, repairs and upgrades to the Tornados in service until they are retired around 2019.
Around 600 jobs in BAE nationally are sustained by this Availability Transformation: Tornado Aircraft Contract “ATTAC”which began in 2006 and was due to end in 2016.
Around 100 are in the supply chain and engineering support teams at Samlesbury and Warton respectively.
Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director – Programmes and Support at BAE Systems said: “I am delighted that we have been able to agree terms to continue to support the RAF’s fleet of Tornado aircraft until their out of service date.
“The original ATTAC contract has proved highly successful. It’s an excellent example of partnering as it provides an agile and responsive solution to our customer’s needs.
“This extension will mean we continue to play an essential role in helping the RAF gain operational advantage no matter what the challenge.
“Everyone involved with ATTAC, from our team to the RAF and the MOD has worked tirelessly to ensure the RAF has Tornados available to support operational requirements whilst ensuring the service delivers value for money.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “This investment will ensure our Tornado aircraft continue to be battle ready for the next five years, as a key part of the RAF’s fast jet fleet.
“They currently play a vital role in supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan and they will continue to form the backbone of our ground attack capability until the Joint Strike Fighter arrives and the Typhoon’s ground attack capability is fully mature in a few years’ time.
“This contract will help sustain the specialist skills across the UK which makes Britain a world leader in engineering.”
BAE Systems supports the Tornado fleet on site at RAF Marham in Norfolk and RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.
The new extended contract follows a £100m contract received in January of this year for BAE Systems to continue to support the RAF’s Typhoon fleet throughout 2014.