General Dynamics has this week announced the details of a new deal, being awarded a £330m defence contract with the Ministry of Defence. Said to create around 125 jobs in the area, the new deal will see the firm develop a ‘next generation communications system’ from their site in Oakdale.
General Dynamics UK's chief operating officer, Steve Rowbotham, said it was “fantastic for the site here in Oakdale”. Improving visual information that will be shared across the military, some of the money will go towards General Dynamics' new fleet of AJAX armoured vehicles. These will be assembled and tested in Merthyr Tydfil. This new system will link up vehicles on the ground with headquarters, also passing information to RAF pilots.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the contract “underlines the importance of Wales to our armed forces”
While a substantial amount is being invested in Wales, this deal comes after the Ministry of Defence spent £870m with Welsh businesses last year, with the defence industry already employing close to 5,000 people in Wales. These are mostly highly-paid, highly-skilled roles, with such deal expected to increase that number.
Illustrating a shift in the way in which the military works, such deals come under the government’s new Morpheus programme; a scheme that permits businesses to bid for different stages of the programme. In a mission to save time and operate within budget, the military is now less dependent on one company delivering a large project, with many Welsh businesses now being outsourced to and working alongside one another.
While a significant change in the fashion businesses in the defence industry operates, having to work in coalition and share intellectual property, the government believes this structure creates better value for money for the taxpayer, ensuring the armed forces are well equipped.