Philip Dunne, the UK’s Minister of Defence Equipment, Support and Technology has announced that a contract worth £48 million for the demonstration and manufacture of the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) system (FASGW-L) has been awarded to Thales.

The contract reportedly covers development, qualification and eventual integration of the missile system for the Agusta Westland AW159 Wildcat helicopter.

The first Wildcat helicopter, the aircraft that will utilise the missile, is seen here taking its first flight at Yeovil in Somerset.

The announcement was made during a visit to Thales’s Belfast, where both Lightweight Multi-role Missiles (LMM) and the FASGW equipment will be manufactured. THE contract is expected to sustain up to 60 jobs at the site.

Back in 2011, Thales received an initial production contract for LMM, to equip the UK’s next-generation AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters as their “Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon – Light” (FASGW-L). The missile will fit niche somewhere below the popular Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

The missile will be a 13 kg/28 pound weapon, carrying a laser beam-riding missile with a range of up to 8 km/4.3 miles.

Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said:

“Some 450 of Thales’s 7,500 UK workforce are based at the Belfast site and we are proud that the company is an important source of high-technology and highly-skilled employment in the region. We are delighted with this award of the FASGW(L) contract as it will deliver a leading-edge weapons capability to the Royal Navy to defeat conventional and asymmetric threats.

Thales’s LMM is the first lightweight missile in the world to be designed to integrate onto tactical air, land and naval platforms and there is much global interest in the capabilities it can deliver. This contract award will provide a great boost for our overseas prospects, as it shows the trust that MoD has placed in Thales to deliver this new advanced weapon system.”

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