DAVID Cameron insists he will do “everything I can” to convince India to re-think plans to buy fighter planes from a French company rather than British-based BAe Systems after expressing “disappointment” at the decision.
Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the decision by the Indian Government was “disastrous news” for BAE workers, including hundreds at the Brough plant in East Yorkshire who are already facing the threat of losing their jobs under plans by the company to end manufacturing at the site.
The move has also raised fresh questions over the £280m-a-year of aid Britain gives to India given the country is willing to spend billions of pounds on fighter jets.
Downing Street was at pains to point out that despite French firm Dassault being chosen as preferred bidder for the deal the contract has not yet been awarded.
BAe has been hoping to partly assemble 126 Eurofighter Typhoon jets at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire for the Indian air force.
Asked about the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron said Typhoon was a “superb aircraft, far better than Rafale” but insisted there were not expected to be job losses as a result of the decision.
“Of course, I will do everything I can – as I have already – to encourage the Indians to look at Typhoon, because I think it is such a good aircraft,” he told MPs.
“The decision is obviously disappointing but it is about who the Indians have assessed as making the lowest bid and therefore asked to enter into further negotiations. They have not yet awarded the contract.”
Unite warned that the selection of a French fighter aircraft for the multibillion-pound contract could have serious implications for BAE Systems and the UK aerospace industry.
Tomorrow several MPs from the region will meet BAe Systems management at Brough as they continue to fight to save 845 jobs under threat under the company’s plan to move manufacturing of Hawk jets from Yorkshire to Lancashire.