BAE in market for new deal

BAE's mighty Eurofighter Typhoon - built and developed on the Fylde Coast
BAE's mighty Eurofighter Typhoon - built and developed on the Fylde Coast
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BAE Systems could be just weeks away from learning if it has secured a major new export deal.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond has told the Commons the Indian government is set to decide shortly on whether to place an order for the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

BAE is battling it out with France for the lucrative contract.

And The Gazette understands Warton-based BAE – which in September announced major job losses due to a slowdown in Typhoon orders – is bidding for a number of other major contracts, including a multi-billion pound order to sell aircraft to Japan.

Reports in Asia suggest bidders for the Indian deal – rumoured to be for 126 aircraft and worth $11bn (US) – have been trimmed to France’s Dassault Rafale and BAE’s Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Russian MiG-35, Swedish Saab Gripen, the American Boeing FA-18 and the Lockheed Martin F-16 combat jets are reported to have been rejected on “technical and operational’’ grounds”.

The Fylde coast was dealt a devastating blow in September when BAE Systems announced 800 jobs were to go on the Fylde coast.

The cuts at Warton – which employs 6,537 staff – were part of 1,400 wider Lancashire-based BAE job loses.

But yesterday, Mr Hammond said a decision could be made in the next few weeks which could replenish BAE’s order book.

He told MPs: “UK ministers have been assiduous over the last few weeks in promoting the case for Typhoon in India and in other countries that are currently considering the purchase of new fast jets.

“We understand there is likely to be an announcement in the next few weeks on the decision that has been made by the Indian government.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies confirmed work was going on behind the scenes.

He told The Gazette: “The Government continues to do everything it can to secure the Typhoon deal with India and I am confident the Government will do everything it can to finalise the deal.

“A number of senior BAE staff and UK officials are out in India as we speak –workers in Lancashire and India would benefit from the deal. I want to see BAE use every opportunity to get inward investment into the county and to engage with the creation of an Enterprise Zone around the Lancashire sites.”

A Commons debate on BAE Systems’ 3,000 planned job losses nationwide, has been scheduled by MPs on the Backbench Business Committee.

The debate, set for November 24 will focus on the future of manufacturing and will look specifically at BAE Systems’ losses.