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Defence industry set for boom in fortunes.

Byline: Wayne Nowaczyk

A pounds 160m tanker contract might hail a revival in fortunes for South Wales' defence-related manufacturers.

National Assembly economic minister Andrew Davies forecast the boom following news of the massive defence contract at Geesink Norba in Llantrisant.

The company is now looking forward to adding nearly 200 to its current 130-strong payroll by 2004, as previously reported.

The jobs will come as it works to provide Britain's armed forces with a fleet of 350 cross-country and blast-proof fuel and water tankers.

And spin-offs along with European orders could help the firm, a subsidiary of the American Oshkosh Truck Corporation, become the hub of a 1,000-employee operation by 2014.

Mr Davies said: ``This new fleet of vehicles will be more reliable and manoeuvrable than existing vehicles, so it's good news for our armed forces, as well as the Welsh economy.

``Defence-related industries are enjoying a renaissance in south Wales and I hope that the cluster will grow from strength to strength.''

Rhondda Cynon Taf council chair-man, Coun Islwyn Wilkins, of Llantrisant, said: ``This is a further vote of confidence in the economy and workforce of Rhondda Cynon Ta f ``This welcome announcement follows the council's recent green light for Dragon International Studios and proves that RCT has the specialist engineering skills needed for this kind of work.

``We're looking forward to continuing to work with Oshkosh Trucks to develop their Llantrisant operat i on .''

Rhondda's Labour MP Chris Bryant said the firm's collaboration with the Army Base Repair Organisation was good news.

He said: ``It will mean 180 new jobs coming immediately to Llantrisant - and the possibility of a further tranche of jobs if we can win a further Ministry of Defence contract for medium and heavy trucks worth pounds 2bn over 10 years. Thanks to the work of the Welsh Office and the assembly - and in particular the campaign by Dai Havard, MP of Merthyr Tydfil - the MoD has really put its confidence in South Wales.

``I am delighted the campaigning has paid off. It just goes to show what we can achieve when the Assembly and Westminster work together.''

CAPTION(S):

JOBS BOOST Lord Bach announces the MoD contract with Oshkosh Trucks in Llantrisant. PICTURE: Mark Fraser
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 13, 2003
Words:372
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