When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
MoD bosses praise BAE Samlesbury staff after fighter’s success in Libya
DEFENCE chiefs praised thousands of employees at BAE Systems for the success of the Typhoon Eurofighter during its first operation.
Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, thanked BAE Systems’ military aircraft and marine engineers for their ‘tremendous support’ during Operation Ellamy in Libya.
The fuselage of the the Typhoon is assembled at BAE’s plant in Samlesbury, with final assembly at Warton – two sites undergoing consultation for 1,400 job losses because of a slowing order book.
The plaudits come as the defence giant announced it was in talks with the government of Oman over a deal to supply it with 12 Typhoon aircraft.
The talks follow the release of a Request for Proposal for the supply and support of the jets by the Royal Air Force of Oman.
A BAE spokesman said: “This news underpins the long-standing defence and security relationship between Oman and the UK and between the armed forces in Oman and BAE Systems, a major supplier of equipment and services to the Sultanate.”
But while the order will help sustain existing jobs, it will not lead to the creation of new positions, the company said.
A decision by India on whether to select the Eurofighter aircraft or its French rival, Dassault Rafale, is also imminent.
Last March, the Typhoon worked alongside Tornado GR4 aircraft deployed to Gioia del Colle, southern Italy, as part of the UK’s contribution to NATO operations over Libya.
In a letter to chief executive Ian King, the minister describes how ‘immediate assistance’ was given by the 500 employees at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, to increase flying hours for Typhoon aircraft by 20 per cent and ensure that this flying rate was sustained through enhanced maintenance.
The provision of aircraft spares was also accelerated by staff and suppliers to the company’s factory in Samlesbury, with turnaround times reduced by as much as 80 days.
Teams of employees worked round the clock in the UK and in Gioia del Colle on the first-ever operational avionics modification of Typhoon – a cockpit and weapon system enhancement called ‘Drop 1’ that enabled Typhoon to perform more effectively in both the air-to-air and air-to-surface roles.
The minister was also complimentary about BAE Systems’ ability to deliver a 25 per cent increase in Tornado aircraft operations from RAF Marham, Norfolk.
This was enabled by a 40 per cent ramp-up in output from the company’s supply chain of companies.
The minister said: “The Libyan people are now free to choose their own future. Although the work in Libya is not yet done, they can be proud of what they have achieved and we can both be proud of what we have done to help them.”
Martin Taylor, director of Combat Air Support at BAE Systems, said the performance of the Typhoon was a credit to the thousands of staff.
He said: “The Tornado had been on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“But for the Typhoon, this was its first operation.
“You are always not quite sure what to expect at first, but things settled down very quickly after the first week. It was a testament to the staff. It was good to hear the comments from the pilots that the cockpit was comfortable as it was a specific statement.”
Staff at BAE Samlesbury were delighted to have their efforts recognised.
Jason Frankland, who works in the Typhoon Priority Progession Cell, said: “I am proud to have been part of the team. It was good our efforts were recognised in Parliament and at top level in the MOD.”
Comments are closed on this article.