Jobs secured for MBDA after £550m missile contract is signed


A £550 million government contract for the SPEAR3 missile, which will accompany the F-35B Lightning Jets, will bring more jobs to Stevenage. - Credit: MBDA

A £550 million contract for new surface-attack missiles will provide more jobs at Stevenage's MBDA, it has been announced.

Known as SPEAR3, the next-generation missile can travel long distances at high-subsonic speed and over the next decade will become the F-35 fighter jet's primary air-to-ground weapon.

Following a successful development phase, the new seven-year demonstration and manufacture contract with MBDA will support more than 700 UK jobs, including the creation of 190 highly skilled technology jobs in system design, guidance control and navigation and software engineering.

At the peak of the contract, 570 people will work on various aspects of the system’s development in Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton.

Another 200 jobs are expected to be sustained along the supply chain that includes L3/Harris, Roband, Collins, EPS and MSB.

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At 1.8 metres long, the SPEAR3 missile system has a range of more than 140-kilometres and, powered by a turbojet engine, can operate across land and sea, day or night, to overpower enemy air defence systems, while the pilot and aircraft remains a safe distance away.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “The development of this next-generation missile will allow us to protect our personnel and assets on the ground, from thousands of metres in the sky above.”

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“Our commitment to this system will secure hundreds of highly skilled jobs across the UK and showcase British technology and weapon expertise on the world stage.”

Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, added: “MBDA is delighted to receive this contract, it is the result of many years of hard work by our dedicated and highly skilled engineering team."

However, the news will not be seen as a positive for everyone. Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "The last 12 months have been a lot for people in Stevenage and around the world. 

"Austerity has bitten hard, while thousands of workers have been laid off. The government says that there is not enough money to provide adequate support or to feed hungry school children over holiday periods, but it is choosing to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on new and even more destructive weapons.

"This money should be used to help to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, not to buy even more weapons and to commit to an aggressive military policy that has already done so much damage."

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