£2bn defence contract set to save thousands of jobs

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The Independent Online

Thousands of jobs are set to be created or safeguarded across the UK tonight following a decision on the world's biggest ever defence contract.

United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfield will announce in Washington which companies will build the Joint Strike Fighter, estimated to be worth £280 billion over the next 20 years.

Lord Bach, Britain's Minister for Procurement, was in Washington to hear the winner of the contest between US giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

UK firms are set to win initial work worth up to £2 billion whichever bidder is selected to build the new jets.

Aerospace giant BAE Systems is formally partnering Lockheed Martin in its bid, but the firm is also heavily involved with the Boeing attempt.

Other leading UK firms, including Rolls–Royce, will be given work whichever bidder is chosen.

An estimated 9,000 jobs will be created or safeguarded at engineering firms across the country if Boeing is successful.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union said: "Whichever consortium is chosen, it will be a tremendous boost for British jobs."