Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Defence company wins 200m deal

Starstreak being launched from an armoured vehicle - pic courtesy Thales
Thales is to supply parts to the MoD for Starstreak

An east Belfast defence company has won a 200m Ministry of Defence contract.

Thales Air Defence, formerly Shorts Missile Systems, will supply part of the Starstreak missile system to the MoD until 2020.

The company, part of French defence company Thales, employs more than 500 people at its Belfast plant.

Thales Vice-President and head of the Belfast plant, Steve Hill, said the contract would protect up to 100 highly skilled technical engineering jobs.

"This also is a great endorsement of the UK defence industrial strategy which facilitates longer term relationships between key suppliers and the MoD," he said.

Thales is a highly innovative local company with a strong external sales focus and globally recognised reputation

Arlene Foster
Economy minister

He said knowledge that the contract was to be signed had resulted in 30 workers being recruited and more were expected to follow.

Defence Minister Quentin Davies said Starstreak was "a crucial weapon system for the armed forces".

"I am committed to providing our armed forces with the best possible equipment to deal with a wide range of potential operations," he said.

Northern Ireland Economy Minister Arlene Foster said the deal would "generate significant additional value and see it (Thales) continue to provide high quality employment".

"Thales is a highly innovative local company with a strong external sales focus and globally recognised reputation," said the minister.

"Significant research and development support from Invest NI has been instrumental in helping the company position itself at the forefront of technological capability, leading to this latest major deal."

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