Stevenage defence firm MBDA has won a £400 million contract to equip the RAF’s Typhoon jets with target-seeking missiles.

The Comet: A IX(B) Sqn Tornado GR4 training for deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, armed with Brimstone missiles. Picture: MoD/Crown copyrightA IX(B) Sqn Tornado GR4 training for deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, armed with Brimstone missiles. Picture: MoD/Crown copyright (Image: Crown Copyright)

The Ministry of Defence said 130 new jobs would be created by the deal to upgrade Brimstone missiles for use on Typhoon jets.

Brimstone has already been used on Tornado fighters in the campaign against the so-called Islamic State or Daesh terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.

The MoD said that in addition to the new jobs, the Brimstone 2 Capability Sustainment Programme would sustain hundreds around the country.

MBDA will build new equipment to support Brimstone’s use on Typhoon jets, and create a stockpile of weapons for operations.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our world-class defence industry is a key foundation on which our great military is built, and the weapons it produces – like the pinpoint Brimstone missiles – have been crucial in helping our fighter pilots on missions such as driving down Daesh territory in the Middle East.

“This massive £400m investment is a huge boost to the proud workforce equipping our armed forces and will create and protect hundreds of jobs across the country, bolstering both the power of the Typhoon jet and British prosperity.”

The new missile, boasting an upgraded seeker, rocket motor, warhead and guidance system, will arm Typhoon when it takes over as the RAF’s principal ground-attack aircraft in 2019. It will replace all earlier variants in 2022.

Brimstone is already used in the UK’s Tornado squadrons in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Shader, and has also been used on operations in Afghanistan and Libya.

Lt Gen Paul Jaques, who is in charge of land materiel, said: “The Brimstone 2 CSP contract enables us to continue to deliver a world-class air-to-surface missile in support of the RAF’s Typhoon squadrons on operations worldwide. It is excellent news not only for our troops but also for the UK economy, with jobs and skills being sustained across the country.”

The programme will allow the weapon to be further developed for use on future aircraft.

Brimstone is among the weapons being considered for use on the British Army’s new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, and the RAF’s next-generation Protector unmanned aerial system.