Edinburgh recieved a jobs boost today following the Government’s announcement today that it had chosen the METEOR missile offered by Matra Bae Dynamics for the new Eurofighter aircraft and that it intended to procure new air transport for Britain’s armed forces.

Defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, told the House of Commons that, following a keenly fought competition with the US defence company, Rartheon, he had concluded that the METEOR missile was “likely to best meet the RAF’s needs over the life of the aircraft.”

In a related announcement, he added tha, while in the short term the Government would lease four C-17 aircraft from the Boeing Company to meet its interim transport needs, the A400M European collaborative aircraft had been selected to meet the armed forces’ long-term need for strategic airlift as defined by the Government’s Strategic Defence Review.

It is understood that the decision to select METEOR will help create or sustain some 200 new jobs at Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS) sites across Britain, including those at Edinburgh and Hillend in Fife. AMS in Edinburgh also has a potential interest in both the C-17 and A400M programmes.

Mr Hoon said:

“This decision will not only massively boost the strength of our armed forces, enabling them to pack a greater punch and deploy more rapidly to trouble spots abroad. It is also fantastic news for Scotland’s manufacturing industry.”

BAE systems have estimated that the A400M programme will directly create of sustain up to 3,400 long-term, high-skill, high-wage jobs across Britain, notably in design and advanced manufacturing and at key locations such as Filton, Broughton and Prestwick. They have also calculated that indirect employment could bring this figure to over 10,000.

Gavin Strang welcomed the Defence secretary’s announcement:

“This is great news for Edinburgh and great news for Scotland. It shows Labour’s commitment to Scotland’s manufacturing industry – in particular, its aerospace industry.

“AMS is well placed to benefit from both of these programmes. In the short term, the leasing of four C-17s will help maintain jobs at Marconi, while in the longer term the A400M could potentially mean new jobs for Edinburgh.

“These announcements show the difference a Labour Government makes. They are proof positive, if proof were needed, that Labour has not forgotton Scotland’s manufacturing industry.

“These are high quality, high value added jobs which will be secured. This shows the benefit which Scotland gets from UK defence orders.

“This decision comes on top of the Eurofighter contract which also benfited Marconi, and follows on from the Ministry of Defence’s decision to base the Army’s Northern district Headquarters at Craigiehall and to site the Former Royal Yacht, Britania, at Leith. All of these are benefits which come from Scotland being part of the UK.’