Army To Get 600 'Digital' Armoured Vehicles
The Government is spending £3.5bn on a contract for almost 600 new 'digital' armoured vehicles, designed to protect troops and bolster live battlefield information.
The contract - with US defence firm General Dynamics - which the company said will safeguard hundreds of jobs at its UK factory in South Wales.
It was announced as the Nato summit prepared to get underway in Wales.
The Ministry of Defence said the 589 Scout Specialist Vehicles have enhanced computer technology to aid surveillance.
Chief of the General Staff, Sir Peter Wall, said: "The Scout family is a transformational programme that will refresh our armoured capability and ensure the Army remains a first-tier manoeuvre force.
"It provides advanced intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities and will be the 'eyes and ears' of commanders on the battlefields of the future.
"With digital links to all of our other systems it will be able to fulfil a wide range of combat roles."
General Dynamics said the vehicles' capabilities included acoustic detectors, a laser warning system and an electronic counter-measure system.
The Prime Minister hailed the deal as the "biggest single contract for armoured fighting vehicles for the British Army since the 1980s".
He said: "Not only will they be crucial in helping to keep Britain safe, they will also underpin nearly 1,300 jobs across the UK and showcase the strength of the UK's highly skilled defence sector."
The vehicles will be delivered to the army between 2017 and 2024.
Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker welcomed the news and said: "Labour fully supports the role played by the defence industry in creating jobs, promoting British exports and sustaining excellence in design and manufacturing."
But he added: "This is not new money; it is not even a new announcement. The Government said in 2011 that it would continue Labour's plans to invest in armoured vehicles.
"Given the critical issues facing Nato this week and the tough decisions that will have to be made at the summit, the British people expect more from the Government than this cynically-timed rehashing of old news".