LONDON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has received a $1.4 billion contract to maintain engines for RAF jet fighters.
Defense Minister Quentin Davies announced the contract Friday after touring the Rolls-Royce manufacturing headquarters in Patchway, England.
The 10-year contract introduced with a parliamentary statement earlier this week, aims to maintain and support Typhoon engines -- EJ200 -- under an agreement that will retain at least 3,500 highly skilled jobs.
"This contract will ensure that our Typhoon aircraft continue to meet their operational commitments as a cornerstone of the United Kingdom's air defense capabilities," Davies told reporters after his tour. "We are committed to building strong arrangements with UK industry, in this case to get more efficient and affordable support for our front-line Typhoon fighter force."
The Typhoon program directly employs some 15,000 aerospace and engineering staff in some of the Britain's leading companies.
Davies said the announcement of the contract was "important militarily and industrially to the U.K."
In a statement the Ministry of Defense said it had placed orders for 186 of the Typhoon jets, each of which is powered by two Rolls-Royce engines.
At least 30 of the jet fighters have already been delivered and are currently being used in RAF operations including Afghanistan and the Falkland islands.
"[The] EJ200 engine is demonstrating unprecedented reliability, and this support service will continue to maximize aircraft availability in the most cost-effective way," Air Vice Marshal and Head of the RAF's Typhoon Team was quoted as saying in the British press.
"The signature of this partnering contract builds on this success and will underpin Typhoon's growing capability and utilization," he added.
Military analysts say the deal is the latest of a string of contracts secured by Rolls Royce, which employs 3,500 staff in its aerospace division in Patchway.
Late last year, the company won $164 million contract with U.S. plane-maker Pratt & Whitney to supply lift systems for another nine short take-off and vertical landing variant F-35B Lightning II aircraft.
Future support of the Typhoon aircraft is focused on building partnering arrangements with BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce for both the aircraft and engines.
Rolls-Royce is a shareholder in Eurojet, the European consortium responsible for the EJ200 engine that powers the Eurofighter Typhoon twin-engine combat aircraft, and has a 37 percent production share of the program, a company statement said.
The Eurofighter Typhoon was jointly developed by a European aerospace consortium consisting of BAE Systems, EADS and Italy's Finmeccanica, a subsidiary Alenia Aeronautica.