Unite praised the determined campaigning of its defence representatives after the defence secretary Gavin Williamson on Tuesday (July 17) confirmed plans to develop a next generation fighter aircraft to replace the Typhoon (Eurofighter) jet as part of a wider UK combat air strategy.
Unite hailed the news, confirmed in a statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday (July 17), as a victory for the UK aerospace sector. The sector will now work alongside the Ministry of Defence and the supply chain to develop innovative technologies and systems in addition to the designing, engineering and manufacturing the aircraft itself. The development is set to secure tens of thousands of skilled jobs and apprenticeships for decades to come.
Alongside funding from industry partners BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, MBDA and Leonardo, the government said it would spend £2bn to develop the replacement for the Typhoon, between now and 2025 with a view to it taking to the air by 2035.
“This is a fantastic victory for the determined campaigning of Unite members who have been pressing the government for a number of years to commit to developing a replacement for the Typhoon aircraft, alongside innovative control, radar and defence systems,” said Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.
“The combat air strategy has the potential to secure thousands of highly skilled aerospace jobs and apprenticeships as well as many more in integrated supply chains for years to come. It will ensure the UK retains the capability to design, engineer and build the aircraft of the future we need to defend our skies.
“In the months and years ahead, Unite will be working with the companies involved to both protect and enhance jobs and skills, as well as ensuring that the UK government delivers the UK combat air strategy in full,” he added.
“Unite now urges the government to follow up this vote of confidence in British design, innovation and manufacturing by committing to build the replacement for our AWACS air fleet and the navy’s three new Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships in the UK with British content.”