Jobs saved as BAE lands £1.6bn deal with Saudis


The defence firm BAE Systems has won a £1.6bn contract to supply Hawk aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

The firm will supply 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and 22 Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft, as well as spares and technical support, to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), preventing more than 200 potential job losses at one of its factories.

Unions welcomed the deal but said it made no difference to the Hawk site at Brough in North Yorkshire, where manufacturing will end under previously announced cutbacks.

Guy Griffiths, BAE's group managing director international, said: "We have a long history in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and, working with Pilatus, we will provide the RSAF with the best training platforms to meet their requirements. Through the Hawk advanced jet trainer, the trainee fast jet pilots will have access to the very latest in advanced simulation for radar, weapons and defensive aids training."

Deliveries of the Pilatus PC-21, manufactured in Switzerland, will start in 2014. The UK-built Hawk aircraft will be delivered from 2016.

Ian Waddell, Unite's national officer for aerospace, said: "This is good news for BAE, but makes no difference to the Brough site. This contract was always in the plan and the announcement has been anticipated for the last year.

"We've managed to save about 200 jobs at Brough, but still have a massive challenge to save the other 650."