David Cameron unveils £390m MoD deal creating 250 jobs

ASCOD SV under development by General Dynamics UK Image copyright General Dynamics
Image caption The MoD says the new Scout vehicles will be the Army's 'eyes and ears' on future battlefields

A £390m defence contract for armoured fighting vehicles will create 250 skilled jobs in Merthyr Tydfil, the prime minister has announced.

A former forklift truck factory will be taken over by General Dynamics (GD) for assembly and maintenance work.

It follows a £3.5bn deal to buy 589 of the Scout Specialist Vehicles at General Dynamics at Oakdale in Caerphilly county.

David Cameron called it a credit to local "skills and expertise".

GD, which already employs 550 people in Oakdale, will open a new plant in the old Halla factory in Pentrebach.

The deal, to run until 2024, was announced ahead of Mr Cameron's visit to Wales on Thursday.

"The 250 additional new skilled jobs at GD will build on those already safeguarded by the decision to purchase 589 Scout vehicles for our armed forces, ensuring our servicemen and women have the very best equipment to keep us safe," he said.

The company said the contract would "open up exciting new possibilities for General Dynamics in the UK in the years ahead".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionKevin Connell, vice president of GD Land Systems UK, said it was an exciting time for the firm

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP Gerald Jones welcomed the news and said the town is on the up and now "going places".

He pointed to a long history of engineering jobs in the area at factories such as Hoover and said institutions such as Merthyr Tydfil College would be able to provide the skills needed to fill the new jobs.

While he admitted some people still need to travel to work, Mr Jones said regeneration in the area, the dualling of the Heads of the Valleys road and the availability of land now meant companies were looking to invest in the area again.

"Merthyr Tydfil is going through quite a large physical regeneration and there is a buzz around the town," he told BBC Radio Wales.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) intends the Scout to be the "eyes and ears" of the Army in the most tricky terrains around the world.

The prime minister also revealed his government was keen to persuade the famous car brand Aston Martin to make a home for itself in the Vale of Glamorgan, by the MoD vacating land at St Athan.

He said a large MoD hangar could be made available to the company in what he described as a "great offer".

BBC Wales understands the firm is considering sites in St Athan and another in Coventry.

More on this story