“THIS is the best Christmas present anyone at BAE Systems could have wanted.”
A delighted Chris Boardman, Managing Director of the BAE Systems’ Military Air & Information business said the news that the company had tied up a £2.5bn deal with the Sultanate of Oman was just what the 6,000 strong workforce in Lancashire needed after a turbulent year.
He said the deal to build 12 Typhoon fighters and eight advanced Hawk trainer jets was fantastic news for Lancashire because both aircraft are built here at the factories at Warton and Samlesbury.
He said: “This is a good deal for BAE, a good deal for the UK and a good deal for Oman.
“We are not just building aircraft and the engineering for this deal, but we will also be supporting those aircraft out in Oman with in service support, generating more work.”
He said the deal meant that Typhoon was now being operated by seven countries around the world and they had high hopes of securing more deals with serious interest from three other countries.
He said the sale of eight Hawk Trainers also offered significant hope since, along with the 22 bound for Saudi Arabia in a deal in May, it showed it was the trainer of choice for air forces around the world as it is designed to complement any fighter aircraft not just BAE’s own.
He also praised the BAE workers in Lancashire for “showing faith” in the company over a difficult year with redundacies threatened and the EADS deal failure.
He said: “Many of our people have already begun their holiday break, and I’m sure the news will be further cause for celebration over the festive period and they’ll look forward to the year ahead.”
Bob Holmes union convenor at the Warton site said: “This is fantastic news. A lot of the workers have finished for Christmas but come the new year there will be euphoria here. Considering where we were this time last year with the threat of redundancies this is a great Christmas present for the staff.
“On March 12, 2012, we had a massed meeting at the Winter Gardens where they voted with a massive majority to forgo a day’s pay a month to prevent redundancies.
“We were proved right. If we had gone through with redundancies the company would not now have those skilled workers for this new contract.”
He thanked David Cameron and the Government for visiting Warton this summer and for lobbying in support of new contracts overseas and local MPs.
Mark Menzies MP, whose constituency includes the Warton site said: “This is fantastic news for the employees at Warton and for the economy of Fylde as a whole. It will safeguard around 6,000 jobs at the two Lancashire sites. The final assembly and flight testing of both aircraft will take place at Warton, where we have a highly skilled, world-class workforce.”