Missile contract gives Britain £700m boost

A contract announced last week for the air defence missile system for Britain’s next generation of destroyers will be worth about £700m to UK industry. British contractors will reap the bulk of the benefit from the £1.3bn project to develop the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (Paams), which will also be fitted to French and Italian […]

A contract announced last week for the air defence missile system for Britain’s next generation of destroyers will be worth about £700m to UK industry.

British contractors will reap the bulk of the benefit from the £1.3bn project to develop the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (Paams), which will also be fitted to French and Italian warships.

Minister for defence procurement Baroness Symons said the deal would `create or sustain around 300 UK jobs and help keep this country in the front rank of the aerospace and electronics industry’.

Paams will be fitted to a dozen of the Royal Navy’s planned new Type 45 destroyers, the first of which is due to enter service in 2007 in a separate £6bn-7bn programme. The missile system is due to be ready by 2005.

The Ministry of Defence said the UK jobs would be split between Matra BAe Dynamics’ sites at Stevenage in Hertfordshire and Bristol, British Aerospace Defence Systems’ factory at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and Alenia Marconi Systems in Chelmsford.

The system on each ship will include 48 missiles, made up of close-range surface-to-air Europaams, Aster 15s and medium-range Aster 30s.

The initial contract to develop Paams was awarded by the French Defence Ministry to Europaams SAS, the joint venture of Alenia Marconi Systems, Thomson-CSF, Matra, Aerospatiale and Matra BAe Dynamics.

The Type 45 project was launched in May after the collapse of the UK-French-Italian Horizon frigate project, which would have used Paams. Vosper Thornycroft said then it would share the contract for the first two Type 45s with Marconi Marine. The MoD and Marconi said this has not yet been decided.

However, Marconi has already won some initial study work on the Type 45.