It will form part of the production line at Lockheed Martin that will manufacture new turrets for the Warrior armoured vehicles and the Scout SV. The turrets will be assembled and kitted out before being integrated on to the vehicles.

Work on the new building, which is where the vehicle turrets will be kitted out and assembled before being integrated onto the vehicle platforms, is due to be completed in early 2016.

The new plant, due to be completed early next year, is part of £23 million worth of investment at the site over the last ten years to expand and upgrade the infrastructure as the business has grown.

Alan Lines, vice president and managing director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site, said: “The turrets that will be manufactured in our new facility have been designed and developed here in Bedfordshire and the new production line will help to make Ampthill a world-class location for this highly skilled and technical work. Our continued investment is creating opportunities for jobs and exports and demonstrates our commitment not only to the Warrior and Scout SV programmes but also to our workforce and to the local community.

“This is a hugely positive step for Ampthill and a great illustration of what a big American company can do by localising within in the UK with a strong footprint and investing its financial power in UK jobs.”

Guests at the ground-breaking ceremony included chief executives Richard Carr, of central Bedfordshire Council, Cheryl Smart, of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, and Daniel Mouawad, of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership. They were joined by Lockheed Martin UK staff, including apprentices and graduates, and were shown the existing facilities including as the site’s 3D printing suite.

Mr Lines said the Scout and Warrior contracts ensured work for the 900 employees at Ampthill until 2023. “That enables us to use this as a platform to win international orders. This new facility is the culmination of where we see this site for the foreseeable future.”

Ampthill is the largest of Lockheed Martin’s 21 sites in the UK.

Cllr Nigel Young, executive member for regeneration and business at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: "High performance technologies is a growing sector and military equipment is one that Central Bedfordshire has a particular strength in. Lockheed Martin is at the forefront of this growth and their long-term commitment to the local community is highlighted by their large workforce and the fact that they have their largest UK site within our borders.

“The council will continue to provide the support that will enable businesses within all our key sectors to develop and benefit from the economic growth of this prosperous area." 

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