The Government expects to receive bids next week from UK and international firms for a £100m ammunition contract.
Invitations to tender to supply 30mm, 105mm, 120mm and 155mm ammunition went out at the end of September. The contract should be placed by the middle of next year.
In the UK, bid invites went to Royal Ordnance and ICI Explosives Europe in Ayrshire and Leafield Engineering in Wiltshire.
Unions at Royal Ordnance had expected the order to be worth £300m and earlier this year had urged the Government to place the order quickly to save 2,000 jobs.
* The Ministry of Defence said this week that the Government had ‘a clear interest’ in the outcome of current joint venture talks between Royal Ordnance and France’s SNPE under which Royal Ordnance’s Bridgwater high explosives factory in Somerset could close. Talks are at the due diligence stage.
Unions have warned the joint venture might involve closing Bridgwater, transferring explosives production to France, leaving just the Bishopton propellant site as the UK part of the venture.