Arms contract secures BAe jobs

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MORE THAN 2,500 jobs will be secured at British factories by a pounds 1bn order for advanced missiles and defence systems that British Aerospace announced it had won yesterday.

The contract, with the United Arab Emirates, will secure jobs beyond the BAe plants at Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Filton, near Bristol, and Glascoed in Wales

The announcement came as welcome news for workers in Britain's beleaguered manufacturing industry where thousands fear for their jobs in the economic slowdown.

Up to 3,000 Rover workers are set to lose their jobs at factories in the Midlands and Oxford as the price of agreeing the company's new productivity deal with unions.

A further 900 jobs are to be scrapped at factories across the country by BTR because of its agreed pounds 9.4bn merger with rival engineering group Siebe.

BAe secured the missiles contract through a joint venture called Matra BAe Dynamics, a company half-owned by the French arms group Lagardere. It won the order after a competition with American arms suppliers that lasted more than two years.

A spokesman for BAe said: "This is clearly excellent business for us with an eye to future exports. Clearly it will help to save thousands of jobs."

Employees in Stevenage and Filton will supply an unspecified number of Black Shaheen air-to-ground missiles to equip Mirage 2000 jets owned by the UAE, while staff in Glascord will produce a warhead known as the Breach.

The deal underlines the strength of the arms sector in spite of global economic difficulties. In partnership with the Swedish group Saab, BAe has also secured a pounds 1.5bn order for Gripen fighters and Hawk trainer jets from South Africa.