BAE Systems has announced it will close its plant in Leicester at the end of next year, losing 260 jobs in the process.
Bosses blamed the company’s failure to win a £4bn MoD contract to manufacture 1,300 armoured vehicles for the British Army — the order was instead given to US firm General Dynamics.
The Scudamore Road site has spent five years developing electrical, navigational and weapons systems for the new tank, known as Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) vehicles. It had also begun work on a £4.5m centre next to the factory to test the vehicle’s weapons.
A BAE spokesman said: “The decision over the FRES contract by the MoD is the main reason for this. We see the future of our UK vehicles business as providing support for the existing British Army fleet, and don’t see any short to medium-term opportunities for design and manufacturing. Design is the majority of what Leicester does.”
Bernie Hamilton, national officer at the Unite union, said: “This is a body blow to the Leicester economy and also to the future research and development skill base of the UK’s defence industry.
“It will result in the UK losing advanced research technology and manufacturing capability for armoured vehicles, and will mean that the UK will be dependent on companies from other nations in future for its armoured land vehicles for the Army.”