Ministry of Defence signs off £10bn contracts

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The Independent Online

The Ministry of Defence continued its pre-election bonanza today with another two major contracts worth more than £10bn

One is a £120m deal with BAE Systems for in-service support of the Hawk T Mk2 jet trainer. BAE will not only manage the aircraft available for training flights but also provide on-base maintenance, fleet management, spares management and repair services. The contract runs until March 2014 and will sustain more than 100 jobs at BAE and its subcontractors, Babcock Defence Division and Rolls Royce.

The second deal signed today is a 10-year complex weapons partnering deal between the MoD and MBDA, which is owned by a consortium of BAE, EADS and Finmeccanica. The entire programme is expected to be worth up to £4bn. The first £330m tranche of the deal is for “deployment of new military capabilities” to British forces in Afghanistan.

The two deals are just the latest in a slew of defence contracts in recent weeks. Last week, the MoD signed a £127m, four-year deal with BAE Systems to develop the next generation of warships, boosting a joint team from 80 to 300 over the next four years. The department also signed off the next two Astute-class submarines, at a cost of more than £300m. Just days before, the government selected General Dynamics for a £4bn light tank programme, securing up to 10,000 jobs. And it also signed a 15-year support agreement for ships and submarines with Babcock Marine.

The Conservative defence spokesman, Liam Fox, criticised the signing of the tank deal so close to the election.