Prime Minister David Cameron at the Farnborough Air Show

UK manufacturing gets boost from �50m defence deal

UK manufacturing and the RAF are set to be boosted by a £50 million defence contract signed this week.

The contract, which was signed at the Farnborough Air Show, is being placed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a full flight simulator for the Airbus A400M.

The simulator will be located at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The simulators are designed and built by Thales Training and Simulation in Crawley, West Sussex, with the contract helping sustain 50 high-tech UK jobs and skills.

The MoD has ordered 22 of the A400Ms to replace the fleet of C-130 Hercules, with the first delivery expected in 2014.

"The UK aerospace sector is a national success story and to ensure we stay ahead of the game we need to attract the brightest and best to the industry," said Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Prime Minister David Cameron also announced £3 million of government funding for 500 degree-level places in aerospace engineering over the next three years.

It was also announced that the next steps for exploiting potential future capabilities of the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft had been agreed by the fighter aircraft's partners - the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Steps include the integration of the Meteor missile, an E-Scan radar, enhancements of the defensive aids system, further development of the air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities and integration of new weapons.

The announcements follow last week's government decision to axe 17 major army units, reducing the number of regular soldiers by 20,000 by 2020.

"In a hugely difficult time in the global economy UK aerospace is, quite simply, flying - employing more than 100,000 people, turning over more than £20 billion a year, holding a 17 per cent share of the global market.

"But there can be absolutely no complacency. International competition gets more fierce by the year. The UK has got to fight for every contract and every opportunity."

He said the government was doing everything possible to get behind UK aerospace, establishing an aerospace growth partnership "to make sure that five, 10, 20 years down the line this industry continues to thrive and grow".

"We're investing in skills, including 500 Masters-level qualifications in aerospace engineering over the next few years.

"The further development of Typhoon that we have been working on with our partners is good for the RAF who need this capability, good for our export customers who want it too and brilliant for the British manufacturers and British workers who are going to benefit.

"From this government you will see nothing less than an unstinting, unrelenting, unflagging commitment to making Britain the best place in the world for aerospace businesses to invest, design, manufacture and export."

Boeing also announced a £4.65 billion order for new aircraft at Farnborough Air Show.

US aircraft leading company Air Lease Corporation (ALC) ordered 75 planes, including a firm order for 60 of Boeing's 737 MAX 8s and 15 737 MAX 9s, with reconfirmation rights for 25 more 737 MAX planes.

The 737 is often described as the "workhorse of the skies" and the 737 MAX is a new-engine variant of what is the world's best-selling aircraft.

The MAX is more fuel-efficient than planes of its kind.

"The ALC leadership team has an excellent record of placing Boeing airplanes with airlines worldwide," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Ray Conner.

"They are an ideal partner to help establish the 737 MAX in the leasing market."

Boeing's rival Airbus, whose planes' wings are made in the UK, announced that its future A330 aircraft would be able to fly on longer routes.

This will be made possible by increasing the maximum take-off weight on A330s.

With more fuel able to be carried, the planes will, for example, be able to fly from London to Tokyo.

The first of the longer-range A330s is expected to come into service in mid-2015.

There were a variety of military jets and historic aircraft on display at Farnborough Air Show, with the world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380 superjumbo, among the aircraft that will fly.

The show comes at a time when UK airlines and airports await the imminent publication of a government consultation document on aviation policy.

The government says it is still opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport in west London but recognises the need for more capacity in south-east England.

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