The government has announced that it will purchase a third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft- a project that is expected to sustain around 16,000 jobs in the UK.
The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) is in the final stages of procuring the multi-role combat aircraft.
The Typhoon is expected to provide the RAF with additional capacity to undertake operations such as air policing, peace support and high- intensity conflict.
The first production aircraft will be deployed initially as air superiority fighters, and will later be equipped with a ground attack capability.
Gordon Brown said: ‘I am pleased that we are moving forward with this important programme with our partner nations.
‘This will strengthen Britain’s defence capability, and will create new jobs in advanced manufacturing that Britain needs to emerge stronger and fitter from this global downturn.’
Defence secretary, John Hutton, added: ‘We look forward to receiving an affordable bid from European industry that will allow us to proceed with a programme that will deliver advanced multi-role aircraft to the Royal Air Force, and maintain high-technology skills and industrial capability across the UK and Europe.
‘Subject to the satisfactory outcome of these negotiations, I hope that we will be in a position to sign a contract later this year.’
Germany, Italy and Spain are partner nations in the deal, and the contract will be signed once all parties involved agree on the terms.
In response to the announcement, Nigel Whitehead, group managing director of Programmes and Support at BAE, said: ‘The government rightly emphasises that Typhoon enables the industry to develop a highly skilled workforce, employed in jobs which generate high value for the economy and will provide a platform for the UK to emerge stronger and fitter from this global downturn.
‘Typhoon Tranche 3 provides the UK with a world beater in the export market that can generate revenue, and sustain jobs and industrial capability for many years to come.’
Ian Godden, chief executive of the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) added: ‘This is a significant step to confirm the future of the programme and the capabilities that it will provide for our armed forces.
‘However, it does not remove fully some of the uncertainty over the long-term future of this programme, which supports thousands of UK jobs, particularly in the North West of England.’
Godden added that the decision was a vote of confidence in the UK’s high-tech manufacturing sector, and would go some way to contributing to the country’s economic recovery.