DEALS worth nearly £300million to service the UK's fleet of Hawk trainer jets will support 20 jobs in East Lancashire, according to aerospace giant BAE Systems.

Staff at their sprawling Samlesbury plant will work on three separate contracts to maintain the TMk1/1a and T2 aircraft for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force until 2020.

Their expertise will support operations at RAF Valley in North Wales, RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and the Royal Naval Air Station in Cornwall and include aircraft maintenance, fleet management and technical and engineering support for the jets

Peter Jones, the head of Hawk UK Availability at BAE Systems, said: "These contracts will allow us to continue to deliver end-to-end service for our Hawk customers.

"Currently we ensure that 95 per cent of the Hawk fleet is available at any one time and we are confident in our ability to continue to deliver this.

"Together with our service delivery partner, Babcock, we have managed to improve the level of support service offered to our customers and reduce the costs of their Hawk fleet.

"These contract awards demonstrate the excellent relationship between BAE Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence."

Bosses at BAE have seen the Hawk advanced jet trainer become an integral part of the training system for the Navy and RAF, with an estimated 20,000 given insights into fast aircraft as a result.

Advanced airborne simulation technology is deployed alongside an updated cockpit environment to provide a "smoother and more cost-effective transition to the front-line for pilots", say BAE's management.

More than 1,000 Hawks have now been delivered or are on order.

Another 50 positions at the company's site in Brough, East Yorkshire, have also been secured as a result of the contracts.

The company has also seen its largest apprenticeships intake, with 118, alongside 45 graduates, taken on at Samlesbury and Warton.