MP's call to speed ahead with next generation jet to protect jobs

Mark Menzies
Mark Menzies
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Fylde’s MP has called for the Government to start work now on  the next generation of fighter  to protect Britain’s hi-tech skills base and jobs in Lancashire.

Mark Menzies was speaking in a Defence Aerospace Industrial Strategy debate in Parliament and called for a long-term project which would sustain jobs at BAE System’s Warton site where around 6,000 people employed.

The Typhoon production line at Warton

The Typhoon production line at Warton

The firm has said 700 jobs in the county are under threat due to slowdown in Typhoon orders.

In the debate, Mr Menzies said: “The former Prime Minister David Cameron visited my constituency on three occasions, all of them to BAE Systems in Warton. That was how highly he regarded it.

“On his final visit, he outlined the Government’s commitment to a sixth-generation fighter aircraft. I urge the minister to ensure that we continue to work to make good on that commitment to deliver it, and I say that not just to keep the United Kingdom secure, but as someone who has had the privilege of visiting RAF Akrotiri and has seen Typhoons and Tornadoes keeping safe the people who are at risk of harm from ISIS.

"It is a huge privilege to represent a constituency where aircraft are not only designed, developed and built, but exported around the world.

"I thank the minister for her support and for the Government’s support of work in the incredibly competitive defence export markets around the world.

"Please can we maintain that support? I want to ensure that we continue the development work that we have secured through the memorandum of understanding with France on unmanned aerial combat vehicles and that the technology that arises can be maintained, secured and then put into what will be the sixth generation of aircraft."

But he said engineering and design skills needed to be kept in use or lost which would put the UK in a weak position when it came to building the sixth generation of aircraft to follow on from Typhoon.

He said rather than simply buying off the shelf solutions from abroad we should maintain our skills base without which, the UK could never get a decent share of the work on projects such as the US led F-35 fifth generation aircraft.

He said: “Having our own ability is absolutely critical. Some of the best people anywhere in the world work in our aviation defence industry, and I am incredibly proud of them.

"Will the minister ensure that we do everything we can to support them during an incredibly tough time, with some of them potentially facing redundancies? We are good at this, and Government Members are dedicated to ensuring that our defence industry has a bright future."