Britain awards $499 million missile contract to MBDA

LONDON - Britain has awarded European missile maker MBDA a 250 million pound (US$393 million or S$499 million) contract to manufacture Sea Ceptor missiles in the UK, which the government said would help sustain 500 jobs.

The Sea Ceptor missiles, which will be fitted to the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates and later on, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, are capable of travelling at speeds of more than 2000 miles an hour and can protect an area out to a range of 25 kilometres.

They will help provide the Royal Navy with a full range of missile systems to defeat current and future threats, Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Tuesday.

MBDA is jointly owned by BAE Systems, Franco-German EADS, and Italy's Finmeccanica.

"The production of Sea Ceptor will be a huge boost to the UK's world-leading missile industry," Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said. "Having balanced the defence budget we continue to order new equipment for our forces with confidence."

The MoD also said it extended an agreement made with MBDA in 2010 to manage the UK's complex weapons portfolio.