1. ITV Report

Jobs safe in the South

A hercules participates in a training exercise Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

A new £350 million contract to maintain the RAF's Hercules military transporters will help sustain hundreds of British jobs, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract would save the taxpayer £170 million by replacing a number of short-term contracts with one to service the aircraft until the end of 2015.

The new deal with Marshall Aerospace would support 500 jobs in the UK,according to the MoD. The majority of the work will be at the Marshall facility at Cambridge Airport but the supply chain will be managed by Lockheed Martin in Havant, Stansted and Gloucester.

Rolls-Royce and sub-contractor Vector Aerospace will maintain engines at Filton, Hook, Croydon and Brize Norton.

Defence Equipment Minister Peter Luff said: "The Hercules aircraft is a key part of our long-range RAF air transport force and supports thousands of troops on operations across the globe. "This new agreement will not only save the taxpayer money but will also ensure the fleet has continued support to maintain aircraft availability, especially for Afghanistan."

"The announcement of this contract is just part of the comprehensive regeneration of our Armed Forces' equipment that has been made possible thanks to the Government's balancing of the defence budget for the first time in a generation."