A £600m contract to maintain the 'eyes and ears' of the Royal Navy is expected to secure more than 500 UK jobs.
The 10-year contract with manufacturer Thales will provide maintenance and repair for 17 different systems across the Royal Navy fleet, including Astute, Trafalgar and Vanguard submarines as well as Type 45 warships, Type 23 frigates and Hunt and Sandown class mine-hunting ships.
The multimillion-pound Sensor Support Optimisation Project is expected to sustain some 530 jobs – 230 Thales jobs at sites in Glasgow, Manchester, Somerset and Crawley in West Sussex, and a further 300 jobs through the UK supply chain.
The MoD said the new contract will bring estimated savings of around £140m over the 10-year period.
Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, who signed the contract during a visit to Thales' headquarters in Crawley today, said: "This contract is good news for the Ministry of Defence and UK industry.
"Not only will it secure over 500 jobs across the UK, whilst delivering savings of £140m to the taxpayer, it will also provide essential support for the combat equipment that helps give the Royal Navy's fleet of ships and submarines a vital technological edge wherever they are based in the world."
Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Mathews, Chief of Materiel (Fleet) for the MoD's Defence, Equipment and Support organisation, added: "Securing support for this combat equipment, the electronic eyes and ears of our fleet of submarines and surface warships, is key to ensuring that the Royal Navy will continue to be able to protect the UK's interests wherever they may be."
Thales said its new Sensors Support Optimisation Project (SSOP), for the in-service support of the Navy's major sensor systems, builds on the success of its Contractor Logistics Support contract, originally signed in 2003, which provided support to the Navy's sonar and electronic warfare systems for the past 10 years.
Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said: "This contract recognises the value that can be achieved and the savings that can be delivered through a long-term services agreement.
"It also reflects the successful way in which Thales UK has delivered the required outputs over the past 10 years.
"This project refines that approach to optimise performance over the next 10 years, and reinforces our positive well-established relationship with the Royal Navy."