A LANCASHIRE aerospace company is leading a multi-billion pound bid to build fighter jets for Finland.

BAE Systems, which employs around 10,000 people at its sites in Samlesbury and Warton, is leading the bid on behalf of the four-nation Eurofighter consortium, made up of the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

If the Eurofighter bid is successful the Samlesbury and Warton plants will play a major role in supporting the delivery of the offer submitted to replace Finland's HX fighter jets and which also includes a proposal for Finnish industry experts to work alongside teams in Lancashire to develop an advanced new radar for Typhoon fighter aircraft.

BAE Systems managing director for Europe and international Andrea Thompson said: “The jobs that we are offering are high quality, long term jobs equating to over 20 million man hours over 30 years, with the knock on benefit to the wider economy driving this figure even higher, and I am proud to be part of the team submitting this offer into Finland today.”

The Finnish government is seeking to acquire new aircraft to replace its F-18 Hornet aircraft currently in service with its air force and will select from the competitors bidding for the contract later this year.

The BAE Systems led bid is one of several hoping to win the €10 billion contract, equivalent to over £8.6 billion.

This could proves significant for Lancashire, given that a third of the major units for every jet, including the front fuselage and tail are manufactured at BAE's Samlesbury site, while the site at Warton contains the final assembly line and flight testing facility.

Meanwhile, the consortium claims that their proposals will also prove to be a boost for the Finnish economy.

UK minister for defence procurement Jeremy Quin MP said: "The Eurofighter partnership on offer represents the best all-round package for Finland.

"It is affordable within the Finnish budget; it provides security of supply through industrial participation that delivers high-tech jobs for the duration of the aircraft’s service life, and it delivers outstanding military capability, all underpinned by a government-to-government partnership."