MILAN/LONDON Jan 29 AgustaWestland, the
helicopter unit of Finmeccanica, has won two contracts
from Britain's Ministry of Defence worth a total of about 910
million euros ($1.24 billion), the Italian defence group said on
One contract concerns the conversion of 25 AW101 Merlin
helicopters for maritime operations, Finmeccanica said in a
statement. These will replace Britain's Sea King Mk 4
helicopters which will go out of service in 2016.
Under the second contract, AgustaWestland will provide
support and maintenance services for the ministry's fleet of
Apache AH Mk.1 attack helicopters for five years.
The announcement is a welcomed respite for the company,
which warned earlier this month that it might cut jobs after
India cancelled a deal to buy 12 AW101 helicopters over what it
termed a breach of integrity.
Britain's Ministry of Defence said the work would be carried
out by AgustaWestland at its three sites at Yeovil, Suffolk and
Hampshire, sustaining as many as 537 jobs.
It will also protect a further 500 jobs in the supply chain
at British sites operated by GE Aviation, General
Dynamics, Finmeccanica's Selex unit and APPH Aviation
Services, a unit of aircraft services firm BBA Aviation.
"The UK defence industry makes an important contribution to
the economy, generating revenue of over 22 billion pounds each
year and its highly skilled workforce plays a crucial part in
growing our economy," Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said in a
"This investment will help secure British jobs, providing
security to thousands of workers and their families."