29/07/2004

Belfast firm wins multi-million pound MoD missile contract

A Belfast-based firm has won a multi-million pound contract to supply the UK's frontline forces with advanced air defence 'Starstreak' missiles.

The MoD's contract with Thales Air Defence Ltd will see troops get the latest 'Starstreak' High Velocity Missile (HVM) - the most advanced very short range air defence missile in the world.

Over 80 jobs in Belfast will be secured by the £180 million contract which will supply the Armed Forces with thousands of HVM missiles – with deliveries starting in 2007.

The missiles, which can be shoulder-launched, tripod-launched or fired from vehicles, are the Army's main weapon against air targets such as helicopters, cruise missiles and low flying aircraft. Each missile contains three explosive tipped 'darts', which strike their target at over 2,000 miles per hour for maximum effect.

Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach said: "This contract will ensure that our front line forces will continue to be provided with the most advanced very short range air defence missile available in the world today.

"The Starstreak is an exceptionally capable weapon, which will give our troops a potent defence against a wide range of aerial threats, both now and in the future. I am also delighted to note that the project will underpin an important production capability and support many jobs in the UK."

The 'Starstreak' HVM missile has been in use with the British military since 1995. This contract follows on from earlier buys and will ensure that ground forces maintain their ground-to-air missile capability until 2020.

The system, which is effective at a range of over 5km, incorporates the highly advanced Air Defence Alerting Device which provides automatic targeting in all weathers. It is also extremely stealthy, emitting no signals that can be picked up by enemy monitoring systems.

(MB)

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