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Minister opens Welsh facility for armoured vehicles

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: 24 November, 2009  (Company News)
Thales armoured vehicle integration facility in Camarthenshire has been opened by the Minister for Wales
First Minister for Wales, the Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, has opened a new vehicle integration facility in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, for Thales UK. More than £1.5m has been invested in this new facility by Thales, serving to strengthen its position at the forefront of European armoured vehicle integration.

Thales’s West Wales facility includes 130,000 sq feet of vehicle integration space, over 70,000 sq ft of warehousing, two 40 tonne and three 20 tonne gantry cranes, a vehicle test track and office facilities. It will initially be used to deliver a contract of more than £20m with Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd (ST Kinetics) to undertake the mission equipping of more than 100 ST Kinetics-designed and manufactured all-terrain armoured vehicles, known as Warthog, to meet a UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) key urgent operational requirement.

Thales will install UK-specific equipment to the vehicles, including additional armour, specialist electronic counter-measure equipment and communications, to bring them to the required standard for use in Afghanistan. Warthog will be deployed in Afghanistan as part of the new package of protected patrol vehicles announced by the MoD in October 2008.

The new facility in West Wales will subsequently be used to deliver other programmes involving the integration of mission systems and communications equipment into vehicles.

During the visit, the First Minister and guests were briefed on Thales UK’s activities in the land systems market and were shown around the first Warthog vehicle to have arrived in the UK from ST Kinetics. This vehicle is currently undergoing equipment installation. As part of his tour around the new site the First Minister met a number of locally recruited staff and management.

The opening of Thales’s West Wales site has been supported by grant assistance from the Welsh Assembly Government to help fund the creation of new jobs at the site, as well as support from Carmarthenshire County Council.

After officially opening the new facility, First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, said: 'Investments in technology, people and new industrial facilities from innovative companies like Thales UK are key to the future prosperity of Wales. We wish Thales every success here and look forward to seeing their business develop further in West Wales and, indeed, elsewhere in Wales. I have been most impressed by what I have seen today, particularly by the enthusiasm and evident skills of the newly recruited employees.'

Alex Dorrian, CEO of Thales UK, said: “We welcome the First Minister and our other distinguished guests to Thales’s new West Wales site in Carmarthenshire. Today’s opening marks a significant step in our ongoing investment programme in support of the development of our UK land systems business, following the opening of new sites in Bristol last year and Crawley last week.

“The opening of Thales’s West Wales site will initially create around 30 new skilled roles to help deliver the MoD’s Warthog capability, supported by the Welsh Assembly Government’s grant assistance, for which we are very grateful. Thales is looking into a number of other opportunities in the defence and wider government sectors that may ultimately result in work for Thales in West Wales”
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