Somerset

MoD says £271m helicopter deal 'will sustain 500 UK jobs'

Wildcat helicopter Image copyright MOD
Image caption The MoD said about 500 "highly-skilled British jobs would be safeguarded"

A five-year deal worth £271m will protect hundreds of aerospace jobs across the UK, the government has said.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed the contract with Leonardo - the firm that maintains Wildcat helicopters for the Royal Navy.

The MoD said about 500 "highly-skilled British jobs would be safeguarded".

Many of those will be in Yeovil and at the Royal Naval Air Station, also in Somerset. The deal will also support jobs in Edinburgh, Luton and Crawley.

Minister for defence procurement Harriett Baldwin said: "This Wildcat deal delivers a key capability for the Royal Navy and Army, and supports vital high-skilled jobs in Somerset, where there's a proud tradition of supporting UK helicopter operations.

"Wildcat is one of the world's most advanced helicopters and an important part of the government's 10-year £178bn plan to provide our armed forces with the equipment they deserve."

The announcement comes after a warning from the Commons defence select committee in November, that Britain's defences were at risk amid uncertainty over plans to replace the "woefully low" number of warships.

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