Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Northern Ireland's economy kept afloat by weapons such as £100m Thales deal

Weapons boost the Northern Ireland economy.

It's not a phrase often used, but one which is appropriate for the £100m order sealed by Thales with the Indonesian government, which will be made at the company's Belfast plant.

There are plenty of opinions on the ethics of such contracts – and many will be expressed at this latest deal – but there's no doubting the sector has and is making a huge contribution to the economy here.

But more than that, it's exposing the high skill base available in Northern Ireland – which has been entrusted with engineering missiles that contain the most high-tech tech imaginable.

That skill has been honed in the aerospace industry, one which has been punching above its weight for many years on these shores, and which is about to make its work known to an even bigger market in the months ahead.

The roll-out of Bombardier's C-Series aircraft will see wings and other components made in Belfast take to the skies after the planes are completed in Canada.

And there is a myriad of other aerospace and defence contracts being worked on by the growing band of companies here which have become specialist in those fields.

So, while for years our economy has been dragged down by weapons, for once the opposite is true.