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Bush helicopter deal protects jobs.

A North East firm has won a prestigious contract to make parts for a fleet of helicopters for US President George Bush.

The deal has safeguarded the future for more than 100 workers at Ford Components, aerospace division in Tyne Dock, South Shields.

Ford makes parts for the automotive and aerospace industries and is the main supplier of machine parts for British helicopter maker, Augusta Westland.

Westland, based in Somerset, has clinched a pounds 3.2bn US defence contract to provide helicopters for Marine One, the force which transports the US president. The deal will see Westland provide the US Navy with 23 helicopters in a consortium with Lockheed Martin and America's Bell.

The helicopter, the US101, is an Americanised version of the EH101, an Augusta design.

The aircraft will be assembled in America, but about a third of the contract value will be spent in Europe. With key components, including the rotor blades, gearboxes and rotor hubs being built at Augusta's British base.

Chairman of Ford Components, Geoff Ford said: "This will certainly safeguard existing jobs."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 3, 2005
Words:177
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