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The BBC's James Robbins
"The biggest boost for a string of factories in years"
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Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Defence orders boost jobs
Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon: Could secure thousands of jobs
More than 10,000 UK jobs could be created following the announcement of two defence orders worth 5bn.

A 1.5bn order for air-to-air missiles to arm the new Eurofighter aircraft will go to the Matra BAe Dynamics (UK) Ltd European consortium Meteor, creating or sustaining 1,200 jobs.

And long-term plans to order 25 European Airbus A400M aircraft produced by the Airbus Military Company at a cost of 3.5bn could eventually create more than 10,000 new jobs in the UK.

The orders, which follow competition between European and American led consortiums, were announced in the House of Commons by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

The A400M aircraft will provide the RAF with its own strategic "heavy lift" aircraft in the long term, Mr Hoon said.

Fierce competition

And in order to address the RAF's medium term heavy lift needs and replace ageing Hercules transport planes the government will lease four C-17 Globemaster aircraft from the Boeing company for 500m.

The air-to-air missile order was won by the Meteor consortium after competition from US rivals Raytheon and Mr Hoon said it would create or sustain 1,200 jobs in Bristol, Stevenage, Herts, and Stanmore, north-west London.

And the defence secretary said ordering the A400M aircraft - conditional on acceptable cost price and other factors - would create 3,400 British Aerospace jobs at Filton, Broughton and Prestwick.

Geoff Hoon: Announcing decision to MPs

The order could lead to the creation of 10,000 jobs when indirect work and exports are taken into account, he said.

The contracts were announced in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon.

Three bases

Mr Hoon said: "This government is committed to the modernisation of our armed forces. We are determined to deliver improvements in defence capabilities, giving our services the equipment they need at the best value for taxpayers' money."

The defence secretary said the orders should not be seen as a victory for the Europeans over their American competitors.

He said US companies would do a great deal of work in the development of the new planes and missiles.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is reported to have become personally involved in the decision, and may have discussed the final outcome with President Bill Clinton during a phone call on Monday night.

The MoD announced in December that three RAF bases - RAF Leuchars in Fife, RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire - would be home to the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Rolling programme

The jet was designed and built in a joint project between the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The UK intends to buy 232 aircraft to replace its entire Tornado F3 and Jaguar forces, at an estimated total cost of 16.1bn.

The aircraft will first come into service with the RAF's Operational Evaluation Unit at Warton in Lancashire, where the Typhoon is built, in the summer of 2002.

It will then enter service with frontline units in a rolling programme.

Eurofighter is a single-seat, twin engine, multi-role aircraft which will be used in a variety of roles by the British, German, Italian and Spanish air forces.

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16 May 00 | Europe
A400M: Military workhorse
22 Dec 97 | Business
Eurofighter future secured
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