Defence Secretary praises UK industry partnership

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has praised the Ministry of Defence’s partnership with Britain’s defence industry, for continuing to rise and meet the challenges of maintaining critical output during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the beginning of the outbreak in March, defence companies worked alongside MoD staff as part of the Ventilator Challenge to share their engineering expertise to design and produce thousands of ventilators for the NHS. At the same time, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) procurement specialists worked at speed with the Cabinet Office to help the Department for Health and Social Care secure orders from new suppliers who responded to the Government’s call for PPE.

Wallace said that the MoD’s partners from across the defence industry have worked hard to ensure their work – which is vital to national security – can continue safely so the Armed Forces remain operationally effective at all times.

The Defence Secretary recently spoke to Charles Woodburn, CEO of BAE Systems, about how his company have reorganised their approach to work in order to maintain the health of their employees and make sure that programme delivery is maintained. This includes supporting the Royal Navy’s fleet at Portsmouth Naval Base, the nuclear deterrent and the RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert squadrons, as well as ensuring the arrival of the fourth Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarines, HMS Audacious, at HMNB Clyde and the departure of the fourth Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMS Tamar, from the BAE Systems shipyard in Glasgow.

To ensure these critical programmes have continued, BAE Systems has followed the UK Government health and safety guidelines on employees working from home where they can, as well as redesigning tasks, implementing social distancing, enhanced cleaning and ensuring appropriate PPE for those on site.

Wallace said: “The UK is fortunate that our defence industry and its key workers are stepping up to support the government at this critical time. Not only have they been donating their expertise and equipment, but maintaining their critical outputs during the ongoing pandemic. Just last week I heard how BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness have rapidly and innovatively adopted new practices to ensure their vital work can continue – in line with government guidelines – keeping both their employees and our nation safe, today and in the future.”

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