A multi-million pound contract to test the latest generation of radar on a fighter jet partly built in East Lancashire has been announced, securing more than 500 jobs.

The E-Scan radar has been fitted to Typhoon aircrafts ahead of the £72m project announced by BAE Systems at Farnborough Airshow.

The defence giant manufactures the front fuselage of the aircraft at its base in the Ribble Valley, with assembly being completed at nearby Warton.

The E-Scan Assessment Phase will test the limits and capabilities of the system, which is designed to enable pilots access to great ranges during flights and the ability to detect other aircraft before they are discovered themselves.

The jump in technology has been described by BAE as equivalent to the shift from analogue to digital TV.

Mark Bowman, BAE Systems’ chief test pilot, said: “The new radar will give pilots the capability to see much further and this will change the RAF’s tactics.

“It offers better performance than the previous system and helps to enable 24-hour use of the plane.

“The way that these aircraft are fought will change and it means that the Typhoon will continue to appeal in the market.”