Hundreds of new jobs for Telford in £2.8 billion deal for Army fighting vehicle
A £2.8 billion contract to provide the British Army with more than 500 new armoured fighting vehicles is set to create hundreds of jobs in Telford.
The Boxer armoured vehicles are expected to be built in Hadley Park by a joint venture between two defence companies – Rheinmetall and BAE Systems, known as RBSL.
The Boxer is an 8x8 wheeled armoured transport vehicle, designed to transport troops onto the frontline.
The vehicles will be employed by the British Army’s new Strike brigades, which are set up to deploy rapidly over long distances across varied terrains.
Mark Pritchard, parliamentary candidate for The Wrekin, said the new contract will help secure the jobs of existing employees at the Telford site, as well as create hundreds of new ones.
"This is great news for local defence, engineering and manufacturing," he said.
"I pay tribute to the RBSL senior management team and the local union leaders who have worked with me tirelessly over the last few months to ensure that 500 jobs are protected and up to 600 new defence jobs are created over the next few months and years.
"Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin is becoming a significant defence hub, not only for the UK but more widely in Europe. That has to be good news for local jobs, the local economy and supply chains."
The Boxer has been described as a "leader in its field" by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
The vehicles will begin arriving with British Army units from 2023.
It can be used as a troop carrier, ambulance, command vehicle, as well as a specially-designed military equipment carrier.
Nicholas Drummond, a former Army officer and defence consultant, said: "It's been a very long time coming but it's really worth it now it's here.
"One of the reasons it is so important is because it gives the Army a true expeditionary capability – something it's wanted since the late 1990s.
"That means the ability to just get in and go anywhere it wants to go. The Boxer could go anywhere the Army's gone in the last 20 years and be immediately effective.
"It's a marvellously capable vehicle off-road, as well as on-road. Off-road it will be able to crack 50/60 kilometres quite easily."
The Boxer could have already been in use in the UK but pulled out of the original programme in 2003.
Mr Drummond said the UK "couldn't afford it at the time" but the wait means the Army is now getting a "much, much better vehicle".
"That was the right choice, although it's been a long journey, we've got to the right solution," Mr Drummond said.
Earlier this year the joint venture between UK defence company BAE Systems and German firm Rheinmetall to manufacture military vehicles was officially launched at the site in Telford.