The new £75m plant on the site of the old Dunlop factory in Washington carries out forging, machining and treatment of large-calibre mortar, artillery and tank ammunition. Similar work has been carried out at nearby Birtley since 1916 when refugee Belgians delivered the first supplies to British troops.
Work started on the new site at the beginning of last year and production has now been almost completely transferred there from Birtley. The move will ensure even better supplies of UK-manufactured ammunition to the front line, while underpinning around 230 jobs at the site.
The move will see a major transformation in terms of efficiency, productivity and cost effectiveness. The change is largely due to an innovative 15-year £2 billion partnering agreement called MASS (Munitions Acquisition - the Supply Solution), signed in August 2008 with the UK Ministry of Defence.
The MoD’s head of munitions Nick Hunt commented: “This official opening, on time and within budget, is a major milestone in the modernisation of the UK’s munitions manufacturing facilities. BAE Systems deserves great credit for this achievement, which will help drive down munitions prices and maximise future efficiencies.”