THE Ministry of Defence has awarded a contract to provide inservice support to the Joint Force Harrier fleet to Farnborough company BAE Systems.

The contract, which is valued at £70million, was signed between the MoD's defence logistics organisation and BAE Systems' customer solutions and support business.

It breaks with tradition by covering the next ten years of support to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Harrier ‘jump jet' aircraft.

The initial contract award, worth more than £10m, covers the sustaining elements for the first three years and has a modular construction to allow swift response to emerging requirements during its life, such as changing defence needs.

It anticipates the reducing support needs for the current Royal Navy aircraft and the emerging requirements of the GR9 and T12 variants as they enter service with both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

The Harrier Integrated Project team leader, Air Commodore Charles Ness said: "This represents a breakthrough in providing a level of flexibility in our support arrangements that enables them to evolve as we move towards an integrated support solution for the Harrier.

Harrier post design services manager Glyn Culham said: "The contract demonstrates the partnered, more streamlined approach that the DLO and industry are increasingly taking on support activity."

BAE Systems will now respond to inservice requests for support generated via a newly structured requirements management tool and subsequently track them using an electronic management database system.

The contract award emphasises the increasing importance DLO and BAE Systems is placing on long-term support solutions in the defence and aerospace sectors.

In this case the strategy should provide significant cost savings by eliminating any need to enter into drawn-out renegotiations every few years and paves the way for industry to take an increasing role in providing a total support package.