FIVE hundred Scottish jobs have been secured with the award of a £250m jet fighter radar contract.
The contract will involve workers at Edinburgh-based Selex ES making an upgraded radar for Typhoon jets.
The four European countries which build the fighter are spending an extra £1bn on equipment upgrades, £800m of which is coming to the UK.
A squadron of Typhoon jets is based at RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire, where they provide rapid interception of potential airborne threats.
The fighters have on several recent occasions intercepted Russian aircraft testing NATO air defences.
The new Captor E-Scan radar was described today as the world’s most advanced system of its type.
Called the Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar System (AESA), the system was developed and manufactured in Edinburgh, and is expected to be fitted to aircraft in the next three years.
Improvements include increased radar detection range and increased air to ground and air to sea detection.
The new system is designed to work with new Meteor missile due out in a few years.
The UK Minster for Defence Equipment, Philip Dunne, said: “This is a very significant day. The signing of this contract demonstrates we have state of the art technology which will uplift the capability of the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
“It will also boost the exports of the Eurofighter jet to other countries who may be interested.
“The contract also brings £800m to the UK, a quarter of which will remain in Scotland while also securing 500 jobs here in Edinburgh.
“Signing it here in Scotland is an important statement following the referendum. It shows we are prepared to invest defense contracts here in Scotland.
“This wouldn’t have happened if the referendum had gone the other way.”
Alastair Morrison, Senior Vice President for Sellex ES was present at the contract signing and said: “The brains of this operation stem from our long history here in Edinburgh.
“We have provided radar for about every kind of fast jet in the UK. There’s a euro dimension to this too though with contributions from, Spain, Germany and Italy.”
The Eurofighter Typhoon jet was built by Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, a partnership of European areospace companies- BAE Systems, Airbus Group and Alenia Aermacchi.
Test pilot for BAE Systems, Mark Bowman, has tested the new radar system and is pleased with the contract which will allow development of the radar to go ahead. He said: “This increases the relevancy of the Typhoon programme and helps take the capabilities of the Typhoon forward.
“The radar will help us in making tactical decisions and allow us to maintain a tactical advantage over targets.
Alberto Gutierrez, the CEO of Eurofighter, signed the contract at the Selex ES base. He said: “The signing of this contract is a massive boost to all of us and is a pivotal moment.
“It enhances a weapons system that offers a mix capabilities that is simply unmatched anywhere in the world.”
The twin-engine Typhoon aircraft was introduced into operational service in 2003 and is currently used by 7 countries- Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
As of October this year 418 of the fighter jets have been made with the UK and Germany being the biggest customers.