Skills and the capability of the UK to manufacture its own combat aircraft must be at the heart of the government’s combat air strategy Britain’s largest union Unite said today (Wednesday 21 February).

Reacting to the announcement made today by the defence secretary Gavin Williamson, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The combat air strategy must focus not just on world class British design and engineering, but on the UK’s capability to manufacture the next generation of combat aircraft.

“By 2020 nearly 25 pence in every pound of spending on defence equipment will go to factories in the United States. The combat air strategy must seek to address this by putting UK jobs, skills and defence manufacturing at its heart as part of a joined up industrial strategy.

“With thousands of highly skilled jobs and the future of production sites making Typhoon and Hawks hanging in the balance, the combat air strategy must move swiftly to secure the UK’s ability to build combat aircraft and ensure that capability isn’t outsourced to foreign powers.

“A key step would be bringing forward a commitment to replace the Red Arrow’s ageing fleet of aircraft to secure the future of manufacturing sites that will be involved in the production of the next generation of combat aircraft.

“In taking the combat aircraft strategy forward the government must engage with Unite and the tens of thousands of workers at the sharp end of some of the most advanced manufacturing in the world.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.

Notes to editors

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.