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Helicopter contracts will give workers security

Agusta Westland in Yeovil has won a contract to convert 25 RAF Merlin helicopters for Royal Navy use.

Its existing contract to service the army's Apache Attack helicopters has also been renewed for another five years.

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced the deal, worth seven hundred and sixty million pounds, at a visit to the Yeovil site this morning. He said workers at the plant can now have a "sense of security":

Defence Secretary announces new contracts in Yeovil

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has announced two new contracts at a helicopter manufacturers in Yeovil.

The contracts, with the Ministry of Defence, include one to convert 25 Merlin Helicopter for Royal Navy use.

Philip Hammond meeting apprentices at AgustaWestland after announcing 2 new MoD contracts. Credit: ITV News West Country

The Merlin helicopters will be moved from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire to replace ageing Sea King aircraft at RNAS Yeovilton. The conversion will involve installing a folding rotor head and folding tail.

The RAF Merlin helicopters will be adapted for use by the Royal Navy. Credit: ITV News West Country

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Defence Secretary has good news for Westlands

Philip Hammond will visit Agusta Westland today Credit: ITV News West Country

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is visiting Agusta Westland in Yeovil Today.

He is expected to announce plans to convert 25 RAF Merlin helicopters for use by the Royal Navy. The aircraft will replace the ageing fleet of Sea Kings at RNAS Yeovilton.

Mr Hammond will also announce a renewed five year maintenance contract for Apache helicopters

Police hunt sex attacker in Yeovil

Police in Yeovil are appealing for witnesses after a 25-year-old woman was sexually assaulted as she walked through an underpass in the town.

The victim was walking along Princes Street in the early hours of sunday morning and went into an underpass leading towards Yeovil District Hospital, when she heard footsteps behind her.

She was forced her to the ground and sexually assaulted.. She was punched and suffered facial injuries.

The victim managed to escape and the man ran off towards Reckleford.

“I would firstly like to praise the victim who bravely fought the man off and managed to raise the alarm by hailing down a taxi driver.

As a result of her resistance, the man may have suffered injuries to his face, so I would ask the public to think about whether they know someone who has suffered unexplained injuries to their face since Saturday night?

“The victim has given us a description of the man - he is white, in his mid-twenties, of average build, about 5ft 6ins, with blond hair. He was wearing a grey long-sleeved top and blue jeans."

– Investigating officer Det Sgt Jon Hooper, of Yeovil CID

Yeovil take on Southampton in FA Cup this afternoon

Yeovil Town's James Hayter is congratulated on scoring his second goal against Leyton Orient in the third round Credit: Dave Howarth/EMPICS Sport

Yeovil Town take on Southampton this afternoon in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

It's the first time the Glovers have made it this far for nine years, and they reached this stage with a 4-0 thrashing of Leyton Orient in the third round. But they face a tough task to progress any further they travel to St Mary's.

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Yeovil prepare to take on Southampton

Yeovil Town may be the only team from the region left in the the FA Cup after reaching the fourth round with a 4-0 thrashing of Leyton Orient, but they face a tough task to progress any further as they travel to St Mary's tomorrow to take on Premier League side Southampton.

Manager Gary Johnson and Midfielder Joe Edwards know it's no small challenge:

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Union leaders seek clarification on Westland jobs

Union leaders are seeking clarification of AgustaWestland's plans after suggestions that the company might have to shed jobs following the Indian government’s cancellation of a 12-helicopter deal at the Yeovil plant.

Unite wants to know about future plans at the Somerset plant, after the contract, worth about £455 million, was cancelled amid allegations that Indian officials were bribed to secure the deal.

“We want to hold talks with the management to seek clarification on the implications of this cancellation for employees.

“This is a dedicated and skilled workforce, and we need to get assurances about job security going into 2014. The company’s products are highly regarded internationally.

“We understand that the company has other contracts in place with the Norwegian government which is to be welcomed.”

– Unite national officer for aerospace Ian Waddell

AgustaWestland is the helicopter arm of Italian defence giant, Finmeccanica. Three of the helicopters have already been delivered to India and the remaining nine were due to be dispatched by the middle of this year.

MP back AgustaWestland after Indian cancellation

David Laws comments on cancellation of helicopter deal Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Yeovil MP David Laws today commented on the news that the Indian Government has pulled out of a deal with AgustaWestland.

'In my view it would have been preferable to give time to establish the veracity of the allegations which have been made before taking any action.'

'AgustaWestland has over many years demonstrated its resilience, based on the outstanding quality of the helicopters which it makes. I expect the company to go on selling its products all over the world and to show that this setback can be overcome.'

India cancels £464 million Yeovil helicopter contract

Business Secretary Vince Cable with an AW101 helicopter at Agusta Westland in Yeovil last month Credit: ITV News West Country

India has cancelled a £464 million deal for helicopters being built at Agusta Westland in Yeovil. It follows allegations of corruption earlier this year, which the company denies. Three of the 12 AW101 helicopters ordered have already been delivered.

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