Defence minister hails Bedfordshire as a ‘corridor of defence contractors’ during visit to businesses

Defence minister Philip Dunne meets  Mike Snook, Principal Designer at Blue Bear Systems at Milton Ernest.
Defence minister Philip Dunne meets Mike Snook, Principal Designer at Blue Bear Systems at Milton Ernest.

Bedfordshire has been hailed as a corridor of defence contractors who make an important contribution to the multi-billion pound defence industry by a visiting minister.

Philip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology toured businesses around Bedford who provide cutting edge practical applications within the defence industry,during his visit on Thursday, July 3.

The Minister for Defence Procurement said: “Bedfordshire is not just a highly skilled base but an area of technological achievement.

“Developing a cluster of skills from the region with a prime contractor based in the county is a good base on which to build a defence expertise. Between Bedford and Luton there is a corridor of defence contractors which is good becasue it tends to attract others. I think there’s every reason for Bedfordshire to continue being an important contributor to defence.”

The Minister paid a visit to Hybrid Air Vehicles who are based at Cardington Sheds. They are the world’s leading developer of the next generation of lighter-than-air craft including the Airlander 10, a long-endurance aircraft that can stay airborne for five days at a time and provides a stable platform for communications, geological survey, academic research, surveillance or filming.

Mr Dunne said: ”I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen from Hybrid. I’ve never seen a platform like the Airlander 10 which is what we’ve seen here and we had a very impressive presentation about it’s capability. I was over with the UK Embassay in Washington last year and played a small part in bringing the platform back to the UK after it was the victim of US Defence cuts over there.”

Chris Daniels, head of partnerships and communications at Hybrid Air Vehicles, said: “To have a Minster from David Cameron’s Cabinet visit us, along with Alistair Birt MP and Nadine Dorries MP is very important for us.

”The impression we got was the the Minister was blown away with the aircraft - to see an aircraft 92 meteres long in the hangar is mind-blowing.”

The Minister also visited Blue Bear Systems Research in Thurleigh, specialising in innovative research and product based solutions in the field of unmanned flight.

Mr Dunne said: “This morning we visited Blue Bear and had a really interesting meeting with them - they are a small highly innovative, highly skilled, agile business.”

Mr Burt, MP for North East Bedforshire who was also at the event, said: ”The Minister’s visit was very significant because it gives him an insight into the quality of highly-specialised work which is done in the area.

“It tells you something about the quality of the workforce here of the skills that can be obtained. Bedfordshire is also a really good base where other similar companies can look to relocate because they will find a network of companies who do what they do.

“I also hope it would remind anyone that Bedfordshire is on the map - it isn’t simply a place of rolling fields, it is a place where high quality research work is.

“We want to attract the best quality companies to come here - it provides a really good base for opportunities for our youngsters as they leave school and leave college - so all these things combined with the Minster’s visit reminds people of all the good Bedfordshire businesses can offer as a whole.”