Somerset helicopter firm Agusta Westland says a new multi-million pound contract will help to protect the jobs of 3,000 workers. The Yeovil-based firm has signed a deal with the Ministry of Defence worth £90 million. It involves testing and installing a new missile system for 28 Wildcat helicopters.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
AgustaWestland has won a £1billion helicopter supply contact with the Norwegian government which will safeguard more than 3,000 jobs in Somerset.
The company will supply 16 AW101 helicopters plus support and training.
The helicopters will be assembled at its Yeovil facility.
Business Secretary, Vince Cable, was there today for the announcement:-
Yeovil company AgustaWestland has signed a £1 billion deal with Norway to supply 16 Search and Rescue helicopters.
The AW101s will be delivered from 2017 through to 2020.
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable says it's great news for British aerospace and helps protect 3,000 jobs. All the aircraft will be built in Yeovil.
The first Wildcat attack helicopter to be delivered to the Royal Navy has made its maiden flight in Somerset.
Yeovil-based Agusta Westland is supplying 62 Wildcats to the Ministry of Defence in the next two years. The aircraft replaces the Lynx and has a more powerful engine, allowing it to be flown in more extreme conditions.