BAE Systems win £1.6bn Saudi deal

Western Telegraph: BAE is to provide Saudi Arabia with 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and 22 Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft BAE is to provide Saudi Arabia with 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and 22 Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft

Defence giant BAE Systems has won a £1.6 billion contract to supply Hawk aircraft to Saudi Arabia, preventing more than 200 potential job losses at one of its factories.

The firm will supply 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and 22 Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft, as well as spares and technical support, to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

Unions welcomed the deal but said it made no difference to the Hawk site at Brough in North Yorkshire, where manufacturing will end under previously announced cutbacks.

Guy Griffiths, BAE's group managing director International, said: "We have a long history in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and, working with Pilatus, we will provide the RSAF with the best training platforms to meet their requirements.

"Through the Hawk advanced jet trainer, the trainee fast jet pilots will have access to the very latest in advanced simulation for radar, weapons and defensive aids training to enable a smooth transition to frontline aircraft, including Typhoon."

Deliveries of the Pilatus PC-21, manufactured in Switzerland, will start in 2014. The UK-built Hawk aircraft will be delivered from 2016.

Ian Waddell, Unite's national officer for aerospace, said: "This is good news for BAE, but makes no difference to the Brough site. This contract was always in the plan and the announcement has been anticipated for the last year.

"We've managed to save about 200 jobs at Brough, but still have a massive challenge to save the other 650. There are other BAE sites across the North West where workers are also frightened for their future and thousands of jobs are at risk."

Conservative MP David Davis, whose Haltemprice and Howden constituency is close to Brough, said: "We are in much better position compared to where we were last year and this is down, more than anything else, to the courage of the workforce.

"They should be proud of all the tough tactics, the demo at the BAE AGM earlier this month, the debate in the Commons last year and articles in the press and the impact that these events have had. These have already changed the attitude of the company. It now looks difficult but possible to get a circumstance where there are very few to no compulsory redundancies. That should now be our target."

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