US defence company Raytheon has won the long running £800m Ministry of Defence airborne stand-off radar (Astor) programme, bringing with it the promise that it will create 1,500 new jobs in the UK and secure another 1,000.
Around 150 UK companies will participate in the programme. Raytheon itself has over 2,300 employees in Britain. Some 130 jobs will be created in Northern Ireland at Shorts’ Belfast factory, while another 100 will be created at Marconi’s Edinburgh plant, where Marconi will work with Raytheon on the radar.
Other major British or UK-based firms involved are Marshalls of Cambridge, Ultra Electronics, Motorola and BMW Rolls-Royce, which will supply the aircraft’s engines.
The Astor radar will be installed in five Bombardier Global Express business jet platforms. The radar will provide day and night and all-weather imagery of the ground over a large area and will have a range of hundreds of kilometres. The aircraft are due to come into service with the RAF in 2005.
Apart from the 2,500 jobs that will be created or sustained in Britain, there is the potential for an additional 4,000 jobs in export opportunities, Raytheon claims.