DEFENCE giant BAE Systems has pledged hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of engineering support as part of a four-year partnership with UK Sport.

The manufacturer, which has sites at Samlesbury and Warton, is to offer the engineering expertise of thousands of its workers, whose usual tasks involve designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art military jets and submarines.

Discussions are underway to continue the technology partnership, which provided engineering to more than 20 different sports, from bob-skeleton to wheelchair racing, from 2008 to 2012.

It has been reported that BAE will give £800,000 of support to the sports agency.

A number of winter, summer and Paralympic sports are expected to benefit from the partnership, although specific projects are yet to be identified.

During the past four years, wheelchair racing athletes including multiple gold medallist at the London Olympics David Weir and Shelly Woods have used the wind tunnel at BAE’s Warton site to help to find their optimal racing position.

A laser tracking timing system was also installed at the Manchester Velodrome, where Colne’s gold medal-winning cyclist Steven Burke trained for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

And before the 2010 Winter Olympics, skeleton bobsleds, such as those used by Waterford slider Kristan Bromley, were redesigned and manufactured for the British team.

The project will be co-ordinated by the company’s research and development centre in Bristol and it is expected that a four-year arrangement will begin in February.