Dr Julia Reid MEP, who represents the South West Counties & Gibraltar, welcomes the news that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has finished negotiating the £410 million contract with Airbus to support production for the Atlas A400M aircraft. The contract has reportedly secured at least 400 highly-skilled British jobs.

The Royal Air Force currently has 14 of the A400 aircraft in service and according to Defence officials, they plan to add an additional 8 to their fleet by the end of 2019. Defence officials say that the new contract secures a key part of the force’s fleet until 2026. The aircraft, which have can carry up to 37 tonnes of payload over a range of 2,000 nautical miles, will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules.

According to the Government website, the in-service support contract will sustain around 200 UK jobs with Airbus Defence and Space, focused around RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. More widely, the Atlas programme has a far-reaching UK supply chain, with around 200 additional jobs sustained at companies in: Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Sussex, including Messier Dowty in Gloucester, and Thales in Crawley and GKN and Rolls Royce in and around Bristol.

Dr Julia Reid had this to say: “We’re only one week into the new year and already we’ve been blessed with the news that this new contract that will secure at least 400 highly-skilled British jobs, many of which are in my constituency which I’m very pleased to hear.”

“Many of my constituents will also be pleased to know that in addition to the A400m’s use as a military aircraft, they are also ready and capable of deploying mobile cranes, excavators and large dump trucks when required, which will no doubt prove vital in disaster relief operations.”