The British Army is to benefit from a £1 billion upgrade to its Warrior fighting vehicle.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced the funding during a visit to Bedford-based Lockheed Martin UK, who have been awarded the contract.
The vehicles will be fitted with an improved turret and new stabilised 40mm cannon, which will allow them to fire while they are moving. The upgrades are designed to extend the life of the vehicles to beyond 2040.
David Cameron said: “This shows the concrete benefits of the fundamental changes we have introduced to modernise our Armed Forces and to bring the future defence budget back to balance.”
“Warrior has performed outstandingly well in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and now Afghanistan, and this programme will enable it to remain effective to the 2040s. It’s also good news for British businesses supporting the UK’s defence industry, and [the contract] provides 600 jobs from Farnborough to Glasgow.”
The announcement follows the Government’s recent commitment to a one per cent annual real term increase in the Ministry of Defence’s equipment and support budget from 2015, which it claims equates to an extra £3 billion a year.
The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, added: “As a key step towards meeting our requirements for Future Force 2020, the upgraded Warriors will give commanders and their soldier’s greater flexibility and firepower. Not only is this fantastic news for the Army, it also represents a great boost to British Industry – sustaining jobs, skills and capability within the UK’s armoured vehicle sector.”
The Warrior vehicle has been in service with the British Army since 1989 and has served on the battlefield in global deployments, including Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and continues to operate in Afghanistan.
The upgraded Warriors are predicted to enter service in 2020, with the first deliveries beginning in 2018.