Speaking in a debate on the future of military aircraft manufacturing in the UK, Philip Dunne calls on the Government to back up its combat air strategy with contracts to allow members of the ‘Team Tempest’ defence consortium to invest in the necessary design and engineering skills at the highest level.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. He is making a powerful speech and I agree with everything he has said thus far. Does he agree that to sustain the supply chain, which is an important focus of the national value proposition that he has just made and of his earlier remarks, it is important that the Government’s combat air strategy is backed up by contracts? That will allow the primes involved in Team Tempest and the supply chain that will support them to start investing to ensure that we maintain the design and engineering skills at the highest level for such a strategy to have an effect.
It comes as no surprise that my right hon. Friend’s intervention is full of facts and knowledge, because he speaks as a former Minister for Defence Procurement. He is right that the people involved in the early stage of the development of platforms such as Team Tempest need that assurance and they need contracts to come through. It is important that the money that the Government have already committed at Farnborough, which I understand is part of the overall £2 billion envelope, begins to feed through into live programmes and work, and not just at large organisations such as BAE Systems, but at many of the smaller organisations within the supply chain. An aircraft supply chain is not a light that can be switched on and off; we have to maintain the drumbeat and ensure that programmes have work coming through and that innovation has a purpose.