A disused forklift truck factory in Merthyr has been officially opened as a specialist engineering hub for the British Army’s next generation of armoured vehicles, creating 250 jobs.
Following a £390 million commitment to the Ajax armoured vehicle by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), General Dynamics UK decided to turn the former Linde Forklift Truck factory in Merthyr Tydfil into an assembly, integration and testing centre for Ajax.
The AJAX vehicles were originally designed in Wales – at the Oakdale R&D facility and today's announcement safeguards a further 300 jobs at the site.
Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said:
“The opening of this new facility is a major development for both Merthyr Tydfil and the British Army. It is another reminder of the importance of Defence investment right across the UK: the Ajax programme alone is sustaining 2,800 jobs across the country, 550 of which are here in Wales."
In addition to the 250 jobs being created at the Merthyr Tydfil facility, the Ajax build programme is sustaining 300 jobs at General Dynamics in nearby Oakdale, and a further 2,250 jobs at more than 210 companies across the UK supply chain.
"This grows the defence footprint in Wales and is an excellent example of the UK and Welsh Governments working together in the interests of the Welsh economy", Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns said.
The First Minister described today's announcement as "great for Merthyr and great for Wales".
The first vehicle is expected to be completed at the Merthyr Tydfil facility in 2018, with the first Army units to receive the vehicle equipped by mid-2019 and ready to deploy from the end of 2020.