Mark Menzies MP calls on Government to commit to sixth generation fighter plane

Fylde MP Mark Menzies at BAE Systems' Warton plant

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has called on the Government to commit to a sixth generation fighter aircraft, to maintain jobs at BAE Systems.

Mr Menzies spoke in a Defence Aerospace Industrial Strategy debate in Parliament and called for a long-term project which would sustain jobs at the Warton site in his constituency.

There are around 6,000 people employed at the site, which hosts the final assembly line for Eurofighter.

In the debate, Mr Menzies said: “The former Prime Minister David Cameron visited my constituency on three occasions, all of them to BAE Systems in Warton. That was how highly he regarded it.

“On his final visit, he outlined the Government’s commitment to a sixth-generation fighter aircraft. I urge the Minister to ensure that we continue to work to make good on that commitment to deliver it, and I say that not just to keep the United Kingdom secure, but as someone who has had the privilege of visiting RAF Akrotiri and has seen (Eurofighter) Typhoons and Tornadoes keeping safe the people who are at risk of harm from ISIS.

Mr Menzies said he was proud to live in and represent a constituency which exported to so many countries around the world.

He added: “It is a huge privilege to represent a constituency where aircraft are not only designed, developed and built, but exported around the world.

“I thank the Minister for her support and for the Government’s support of work in the incredibly competitive defence export markets around the world.

“Please can we maintain that support? I want to ensure that we continue the development work that we have secured through the memorandum of understanding with France on unmanned aerial combat vehicles and that the technology that arises can be maintained, secured and then put into what will be the sixth generation of aircraft.”

Mr Menzies has held meetings with BAE bosses and unions in Fylde and Westminster to discuss the firm’s announcements that up to 700 jobs could be lost in the constituency if new orders for Eurofighter are not won.

He has raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Question Time and with ministers. He told Parliament it was vital maintained a full production line for a new aircraft, to ensure the UK keeps its skills base.

He said: “The solution is not buying off the shelf, because if we do not have our own strong industrial base, when it comes to working on collaborative programmes such as the F-35, we will not have the technology or the ability to chip in and get an enhanced workshare in the way that we did on the F-35.

“Having our own ability is absolutely critical. Some of the best people anywhere in the world work in our aviation defence industry, and I am incredibly proud of them.

“Will the Minister ensure that we do everything we can to support them during an incredibly tough time, with some of them potentially facing redundancies? We are good at this, and Government Members are dedicated to ensuring that our defence industry has a bright future.”

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