A JET engine deal set to bring 100 new Rolls-Royce jobs to East Lancashire has been torpedoed by US president Barack Obama - but union bosses are remaining upbeat.
The Pentagon has ordered Rolls and US partner GE to stop work on the F136 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, claiming the jet’s ‘second’ engine is a waste of government cash.
It means that the F136 project, which was set to fund a £35million extension and 100 new jobs at Rolls-Royce’s Barnoldswick site, is now almost certain to be axed by the American government.
Jon Brough, Unite union convenor at Barnoldswick, said: “It is looking increasingly unlikely that F136 will go ahead.
“However, the company is still looking at investing in the site.
“Barnoldswick is one of Rolls’ best-performing sites in the world but it does need bringing up to date a bit.”
One option could be investment to merge the plant, which is currently split between two sites, in the Bankfield area, said Mr Brough.
Rolls-Royce, which has planning permission for the extension at the Bankfield site, declined to comment.
However, it is understood that it could be months before a decision is made on the future of Barnoldswick. Despite the “stop work” order from the White House, Rolls and GE have vowed to press on with the F136 engine.
However, it is dependent on US government money and US defence secretary Robert Gates has publicly backed the primary F135 engine, which is manufactured by the American aerospace firm Pratt and Whitney.