A DEAL has been struck which could bring a technical centre of excellence to East Lancashire.

Bosses at BAE have announced they will be embarking on a number of joint ventures with The Welding Institute (TWI) in the coming years.

And one potential project could see a TWI hub installed at the fledgling Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone, according to the partners.

If the centre of excellence came to the Ribble Valley site it could sit alongside BAE’s own manufacturing centre there.

Some of the combined work will focus on developing new technologies in the field of future air combat systems.

Dave Holmes, BAE’s manufacturing director, said: “The UK has been a pioneer in air power for more than 100 years.

“It’s essential that we retain our world leading position when we look to the next 100. Faced with fast developing technology and an increasingly competitive global landscape, collaboration and fast deployment of innovation will be essential.

“Our new agreement with TWI – one of the world’s leading professional engineering institutes – will help deliver this.

“It is the latest in a number of collaborations we have agreed across academia and business that will help us, and the UK, deliver more capability, more quickly, maximising investment”.

Aamir Khalid’s TWI chief executive, added: “A core aim of our organisation is to promote the advancement of knowledge across our core focus areas of welding, joining and allied industries.

“The combat air sector is an important one for our membership, one that is at the forefront of jobs, skills, investment and innovation.

“This new agreement will help drive development in the areas that matter most to us and play a role in securing the long term future of our members, now and in to the future.”

Several joint research studies, across current and future aircraft programmes, are envisaged as part of the link-up.

The official union follows on from a working relationship stretching back more than 50 years and forms part of TWI’s expansion plans.