A DEAL THAT will bring significant investment and jobs to Moray has been finalised and announced by David Cameron – just hours before he revealed he was stepping down as Prime Minister this week.
Mr Cameron used the start of the Farnborough Air Show to unveil details of the nine Boeing P8-A MPA’s that will be based at RAF Lossiemouth.
In the deal there will also be a significant expansion of the research operations by Boeing, who will invest around £100million in an operational and training base at Lossiemouth that will create around 100 new jobs in the area.
Dennis Muilenburg, who is Boeing’s Chairman, said: “Boeing is committed to the UK Government’s prosperity agenda and we share the goals of enhanced economic growth that the Prime Minister has set out to us.”
Announcing the deal had been struck, Mr Cameron said: “Whatever uncertainties our country faces, I want the message to go out loud and clear – the UK will continue to lead the world in both civil and defence aerospace.”
The Lossiemouth investment by Boeing is part of an ongoing expansion by the company in the UK that has seen 1000 new jobs created as part of a long-term strategy.
While it has been known that the nine P8-A’s were on their way to Moray for some time, many have been surprised by the enormity of the deal announced yesterday. Boeing’s £100million will see the establishment of a European base for their maintenance, repair and training of defence aircraft in Moray – a massive vote of confidence in the region by one of world’s largest aviation companies.
The closure of the deal means that responsiblity for guiding the establishment of the P8-A aircraft in Moray formally passes to the RAF – with the project now firmly in the hands for Air Commodore Ian Gale, former Station Commander at RAF Lossiemouth.
The news was warmly welcomed throughout Moray last night, not in the least by the RAF themselves.
During Moray’s Armed Force Day tribute in Elgin, Council Convener Alan Wright paid tribute to the historic links Moray has enjoyed with the military for generations – and the strong community spirit that saved RAF Lossiemouth from closure, ultimately paving the way for Monday’s announcements.
He said: “I doubt there is a village or settlement in Moray that does not have a connection with the armed forces.”
On the arrival of over 500 additional military and civilian jobs he added: “There will be pressures – we’ve had pressures before – such as school places for extra children coming into the region. But we push things out and try to cope as best we can, and as usual there will be a Moray welcome for all the new staff coming.”
Group Captain Paul Godfrey, the Station Commander at RAF Lossiemouth, said: “Further to the announcement in the 2015 Strategic Defence & Security Review that we planned to buy nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the Prime Minister has today confirmed that we have now received approval to order the aircraft via a Foreign Military Sales Agreement with the US Government.
“As previously announced, it is planned to base these aircraft at Royal Air Force Lossiemouth and today’s announcement is great news for the United Kingdom, the Royal Air Force, Royal Air Force Lossiemouth and our local community here in Moray.”
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Our new Maritime Patrol Aircraft will provide significant protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and our £6 billion aircraft carriers.
“They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will rise each year of this decade. That means more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber – to deal with the increased threats to our country.”
Moray’s Tory MSP Douglas Ross welcomed the new jobs being created: “The confirmation of the order with Boeing for the P8 aircraft is fantastic news and I welcome the commitment of both the UK government and Boeing to develop the facilities at RAF Lossiemouth.
“The creation of new jobs in the area is a great boost to the local economy and I know that the people of Moray will warmly welcome new RAF personnel and their families to the area.
“This clearly demonstrates the commitment of the UK government to the area and recognises the vital role the area has played in maritime reconnaissance over many decades.”
Westminster MP for Moray, Angus Robertson, said it was great news and the result of “years of campaigning” to end the gap in UK maritime patrol capability and save RAF Lossiemouth from closure by the UK Tory Government.
He added: “It was sheer folly to scrap the Nimrod fleet without a working replacement, leaving the UK as the only northern European air force without maritime patrol aircraft.
“This gap is being closed, which is hugely welcome and thanks need to be extended to everyone who has been fighting Lossiemouth’s corner to secure this announcement.
“Alongside many others in Moray I campaigned vociferously against the base closure and against the scrapping of the Nimrods. The strategic geographical importance of RAF Lossiemouth is clear for all to see and that is being reflected with the expansion of the base’s role.”