The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, has announced recently that a new contract to design and manufacture future anti-surface guided weapons (light) (FASGW(L)) missiles will protect more than 60 jobs at the Thales factory in Belfast.
The contract will sustain around 60 expert jobs in advanced weapons system design and manufacturing, with a similar number of jobs protected throughout the programme’s supply chain.
The FASGW(L) programme will equip the Royal UK Navy’s new AW159 Wildcat maritime attack helicopters with Thales’ lightweight multi-role missile. The missiles are capable of attacking small boats, fast attack craft and other targets.
During a visit to Thales’ factory in Belfast, Mr Dunne said:
“This contract is great news for Thales and Northern Ireland. The 60 jobs sustained represent experts in advanced weapons system design and manufacturing, and I am pleased that a similar number of jobs will be sustained throughout the programme’s supply chain.
“I want to give the armed forces the battle-winning equipment they deserve, and this highly-complex weapons system will provide Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters with unparalleled strike capabilities. I take great pride that these missiles are being made in the United Kingdom.”
The FASGW(L) contract follows the contract award to missile developer MBDA in March this year to provide the joint UK/France FASGW (Heavy) capability, which will also be fitted to the Wildcat to defend against larger targets. Together, the 2 new weapons will replace the current Sea Skua missile.
Director Weapons Laurence Bryant, whose team was in charge of procuring FASGW(L), said:
“This contract is the result of a great deal of hard work between MOD and Thales and brings us a step closer to providing the Royal Navy with a highly sophisticated weapons system for the future.”
Press Release, June 18, 2014; Image: UK Navy