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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Delayed Nimrod deal secures base
MRA4 Nimrod/Mod image
The Nimrod MRA4 will be based at Kinloss in Moray
A 3bn Ministry of Defence contract for 12 new Nimrod aircraft has been welcomed in Scotland where it will secure the future of an RAF airbase.

The fleet of maritime revamped aircraft, the MRA4, will be based at RAF Kinloss in Moray, which is home to the current MR2 Nimrods.

There was concern the base would close if the new fleet was moved elsewhere.

The contract, which had been dogged by delays and difficulties, was announced by the defence secretary on Tuesday.

Des Browne said the government was getting an exceptional aircraft.

"These aircraft are fitted with highly advanced technology and will give our armed forces an exceptional patrol aircraft and far greater flexibility," he said.

"The Nimrod MRA4s will be able to operate a wider surveillance role over land and sea as well as continuing to fulfil the vital search and rescue role that the aircraft is already so well-known for."

'Local victory'

The deal with defence manufacturer BAE systems is expected to help secure more than 1,000 UK jobs.

The contract, which should have been delivered in the early 90s, was described by the local SNP MP as a victory for local campaigners.

Angus Robertson said: "Clearly there have been issues with the project procurement and development, however they do not diminish the strategic requirement for Nimrod or the fact that RAF Kinloss and its personnel are best placed to receive the new aircraft."

The new Nimrods will be capable of flying missions of 6,000 nautical miles without refuelling and at altitudes of up to 42,000ft.

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