Lockheed Martin UK today signed up its first suppliers as part of the £1bn project to overhaul Britain’s Warrior fighter tanks.
Supplier contracts have been signed with Warwickshire-based engineering designers MIRA and defence group Ultra Electronics in upgrading the fleet so that the fighting vehicles can fire while moving and have the flexibility to fit different types of armour to protect different threats.
The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme is being carried out at Lockheed Martin’s site in Ampthill, Bedford, safeguarding 600 jobs throughout the supply chain.
The Warrior has been in service with the British Army since 1989 and has been deployed in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and continues to operate in Afghanistan. All vehicles will be fitted with an improved turret and new stabilised cannon so that they can fire on the move, a decision that MoD chief of the general staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said will be a “battle winner.”
Ultra Electronics will carry out work on the Warrior power distribution system, the cannon control unit and fire control computer. Ultra is already well underway with the development of the fire control computer and will deliver the first Warrior units early next year. The work will be executed at its site in Cheltenham.
“Next year is the start of an exciting trials phase and we are pleased to be supporting the activities with early prototype hardware and integration support”, said Andy Yates, managing director of Ultra Electronics Precision Air & Land Systems. “The fire control computer has undergone several iterations of testing already.”
Mr Yates added that awarding the future power distribution system contract will result in an additional 30 people being taken on during peak periods.
MIRA has opened a dedicated new facility at Nuneaton, where the two companies’ staff will work together on mechanical design, electrical design, and systems integration and test work for the programme.
Twenty engineers and support staff will initially be employed at the facility with the numbers expected to grow as the programme matures.
The upgraded Warriors, which will have its service life extended beyond 2040, are expected to enter service by 2020, with the first deliveries beginning in 2018.
“By entering into these agreements, we are securing jobs and providing a positive impact to our subcontractor and supplier base,” said Alan McCormick, managing director of Lockheed Martin UK.
Approximately 20 key suppliers, supported by a number of subcontractors, will be contracted by Lockheed Martin UK to support the upgrade. The total programme is expected to sustain or create 600 jobs, with 90% of the work being completed in the UK.