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Ministry of Defence deal could save engineering jobs at Portsmouth dockyards

It's been reported this morning that BAE systems is on the verge of signing a £70 million deal which would safeguard 100 jobs at the dockyards in Portsmouth. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is said to have confirmed that the contract could be signed next week.

Mr Hammond told a local newspaper that the engineering jobs would be sustained for two and a half years while work is carried out on the Navy's newest destroyers. More contracts could follow.

In November last year BAE systems announced that it would be closing its ship-building division in Portsmouth with the loss of around 900 jobs. However the company's maintenance division will remain in operation and this latest announcement will be welcome news.

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Video: 3,850 homes approved for Aldershot

Plans for nearly four thousand new homes on land at Aldershot Military base have been approved by Rushmoor Borough Council.

Building work on the first phase of 230 homes will start next year. The Aldershot Urban Extension, known as Wellesley, will also include two new schools, new link roads, play areas and community facilities.

Some of the town's historic military buildings, including the Cambridge Military Hospital will also become new homes.

Councillors approve expansion plans for Aldershot

Plans for almost four thousand new homes and facilities to be built in Aldershot have been approved by councillors.

The proposals passed last night by Rushmoor Borough Council will expand the town for the first time in almost a century. The Aldershot Urban Extension would be north of the town centre, on the former Aldershot Garrison site. The area is also known as Wellesley.

The development of up to 3,850 buildings will be phased in over the next twelve to fifteen years. The project is a joint project between the Ministry of Defence and Grainger plc.

“This is great news for Rushmoor. The development represents a huge investment in our borough, bringing more people to Rushmoor, providing much-needed new homes, new jobs and a welcome boost to the local economy. It is a powerful statement of the ambition of our borough – to be the best place to live and do business in the South-East.”

– Councillor Gareth Lyon, Chairman, Rushmoor Borough Council’s Development Control Committee

The army's newest vehicle the 'Terrier' is unveiled

The 'Terrier'
The Army has order sixty terrier vehicles for use in the UK and abroad Credit: UK Crown copyright

The British Army's newest vehicle is being tested in Dorset. The "Terrier" is a remote-controlled armoured digger weighing 30 tonnes. The Army says it will be a key part of the Royal Engineers' capability for decades to come.

The 'Terrier' military digger
The 'Terrier' is an armoured digger Credit: UK Crown copyright

Sixty terriers have been ordered as part of a £360m project with BAE Systems. The firm has designed and built the diggers in the UK.

National

Arctic heroes: What did they do?

Today the first Arctic Star medals and Bomber Command Clasps will be presented to veterans by the Prime Minister.

  • Veterans undertook what was dubbed "the worst journey in the world", delivering supplies to Russia
  • More than 3,000 seamen died on the journey, which made sure Germany had to fight a war on two fronts
  • The seamen delivered ships which carried crucial supplies, including 13,000 tanks, 22,000 aircraft and 417,000 motor vehicles
  • Some 58 of the 811 merchant ships involved were sunk by German U-boats, battleships and Luftwaffe bombers
  • With freezing temperatures of minus 20 degrees, anyone who fell into the water died within three minutes
  • The men covered a 1,500 to 2,000-mile run across the North and Barents Seas, one of the deadliest convoy routes during the war

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National

UK to withdraw 11,000 troops from Germany by 2016

Prince Philip meets British troops at Fallingbostel in Germany in 2011. Credit: PA

Around 11,000 British troops based in Germany will return home by 2016 under plans which will see nearly £2 billion invested in Army housing and bases, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will announce today.

Under the speeded-up withdrawal, the remaining 4,500 troops will be back in the UK by 2019, a year earlier than planned.

Around £1bn of the funding being announced today will go towards 1,900 new houses for service families and accommodation for 7,800 single soldiers.

Another £800 million will be spent on infrastructure and refurbishment of bases.

The Government hopes the plans will mean more cash is ploughed back into the British, rather than German, economy as well as creating new construction jobs in the UK.

Savings of around £240 million a year are also expected to be made through reductions in operating costs.

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Hammond to announce future of German army bases

An overhaul of military bases will be announced later today.
An overhaul of military bases will be announced later today. Credit: Press Association

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will unveil his plans for a large scale withdrawal of UK troops from Germany later today.

The 15,000-strong British Army of the Rhine has been in Germany since 1945 and was due to return by 2020.

The Daily Express is reporting that the majority of soldiers will be withdrawn by 2016, with the last 4,500 due back in 2019.

Another 17,000 MoD employees will come back over the same period.

Body parts held by Royal Military Police

Body parts from soldiers killed in Afghanistan have been kept in hospital labs without permission from their families.

Six body parts and more than 50 tissue samples were reportedly retained by the Royal Military Police without relatives of the servicemen being notified.

Investigators from the Ministry of Defence reportedly discovered the body parts at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, while the tissue samples are being held at the Bulford Garrison in Wiltshire.

"Investigations are being carried out urgently into this matter. The Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch has also taken swift action to ensure this cannot happen again and are identifying the families affected as quickly as possible."

– Army spokesperson
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