PENDLE MP Andrew Stephenson has called on Defence Ministers to do more to invest in aerospace programmes which are a crucial part of Pendle’s and Lancashire local economy.
The MP, recently elected as Treasurer of the Parliamentary Aerospace Group, raised the subject during Defence questions in the House of Commons on Monday.
In response, the Rt Hon. Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment Support and Technology, said: “We are committed to providing sustainable support for science and technology across all aspects of defence.
“The Ministry of Defence has and will continue to invest in the aerospace sector, developing existing capabilities and undertaking research into new ideas.
“As part of that on-going investment, I’m pleased to announce today we have placed a £40m., four-year research contract with BAE Systems to explore critical technologies and key system integration for the UK’s next generation of highly capable air systems.
“For future combat air systems, the first contracts are expected to bring benefits for the wider UK supply base.”
Responding, Mr Stephenson said: “It is good news on BAE Systems. Could you say more about what you are doing for small and medium-sized enterprises who make up the majority of aerospace firms in Pendle and Lancashire?”
Mr Luff said: “We do indeed have plans to do more for SMEs. I hope to announce in a white paper to be published this month - it’s good news for the SME sector, I can assure you. And this air systems contract will bring real benefits to small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK including in your constituency.”
Following the debate Andrew, who met the North West Aerospace Alliance in Preston on Friday. said; “This is great news for BAE Systems in Lancashire, but will also provide a real boost to the supply chain.
“A significant amount of the funding is expected to go to small and medium-sized enterprises across the North West, widening the supplier base and ensuring the MOD has access to the best national and international technologies.
“I hope local employers like Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick and Weston EU can benefit from this significant investment.”
Tom Fillingham, BAE Systems Director for Future Combat Air Systems, said: “The award of this contract is great news for the BAE Systems and Defence Science and Technology teams that have been working, since the beginning of this year, to develop the programme to address critical technology requirements for future Unmanned Combat Air Systems. It is recognition by the UK Government of the skills and capabilities that have been developed within BAE Systems over the last ten years.”