RAF Red Arrows SAVED: BAE systems awarded mega deal to secure Lancashire engineers

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BAE Systems has been awarded the decade-plus deal to continue servicing the UK’s Royal Air Force Hawk fleet, securing jobs in Lancashire and also in North Wales – home to No. 4 Flying Training School, responsible for training the UK’s next generation of world-class fighter pilots.

As well as providing availability support to the RAF’s Hawk T2 fleet, BAE Systems will provide depth maintenance to the RAF’s iconic Red Arrows display team from RAF Valley in Anglesey, ensuring the Hawk fleet continues as a global ambassador for the UK.

On top of the £590m deal, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also agreed a separate £105 million contract for engine support has been placed with Rolls-Royce – making a combined Red Arrows/Hawk deal worth £695m.

The Hawk aircraft is heralded by the RAF as its chosen jet trainer to train its student pilots who will ultimately go on to operate aircraft including Typhoon, F-35 and next generation combat aircraft.

BAE Systems has already provided support to the Hawk fleet for 12 years. The new deal is said to secure around 500 jobs for the next 11 years.

The MoD said: “The Hawk Integrated Support Solution comprises of two separate contracts placed by the Ministry of Defence’s procurement arm Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S). 

“These contracts will provide support for Hawk T2 aircraft, and the T1 Hawks used by the RAF’s Aerobatics Team, the Red Arrows.”

The new contract will deliver efficiencies through new ways of working and harnessing the use of technology to drive savings which will be reinvested into the RAF’s training capability.

Andrea Thompson, Managing Director – Europe and International, BAE Systems’ Air sector, said: “As the UK’s sovereign combat air capability provider, we pride ourselves in our close work with the RAF to understand its training and operational requirements; supporting the RAF to equip pilots with the skills, capabilities and equipment they need to safeguard national security.

“Through this collaborative approach with the RAF and our industry partners, we have secured a long-term continuation of Hawk support, which will deliver improved value for money and allow savings to be reinvested which will ultimately benefit the UK’s air power talent and capability.”

As part of the contract, BAE Systems and Babcock will also carry out depth maintenance to the Hawk TMk1 aircraft flown by the Red Arrows from RAF Valley, ensuring the team continues to represent the speed, agility and precision of the RAF at air shows across the globe. 

It will see workers, including many based at BAE System’s sites in Warton and Samlesbury, providing technical support, engineering and project management to the fleet of 28 aircraft.

Jeremy Quin, Defence Procurement Minister, said: “This contract will provide aircraft support to maintain the delivery of pilot training and the Red Arrows long into the future. 

“It underlines our commitment to providing the highest quality training and aircraft to the future pilots of our Armed Forces.” 

RAF Air Vice-Marshal Ellard, Director Combat Air at DE&S, said: “This is a major milestone for UK MFTS and the culmination of many months of hard work from the team at DE&S.

“Through this investment, we will continue to train our student pilots to become the best in the business. 

“The announcement represents excellent news for Anglesey, our workforce, and for sustaining our core business of delivering world-class training to our future fighter pilots. 

“The Hawk T2 is a fantastic platform to train our Typhoon and Lightning pilots on, readying them for the demands of the frontline; this level of ongoing investment ensures UK Defence will retain our military edge within the contested air environment.”

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