WORK to arm the Royal Navy’s next generation of supersonic stealth planes is set to begin after the Ministry of Defence awarded a £184m contract for new air-to-air missiles.
The F-35B Lightning II fighter planes will be used on the navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class of aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – which will both be based in Portsmouth.
The missiles which will arm the jets will be designed and manufactured in the UK.
The state-of-the-art heat-seeking missiles, known as the ASRAAM, will give RAF and navy F-35B pilots, operating from land and the aircraft carriers, the ability to annihilate current and future air threats.
Tony Douglas, chief executive at the MoD’s defence equipment and support organisation, said: ‘ASRAAM will provide vital offensive and defensive options for UK F-35 pilots against a wide range of air-to-air threats.’
Harriett Baldwin, minister for defence procurement, said the build will support 400 jobs
ASRAAM, which uses a sophisticated infra-red seeker, is designed to enable UK pilots to engage and defend themselves against other aircraft.
It is capable of engaging hostile air targets ranging in size from large multi-engined aircraft to small drones.