Defence Minister Praises World-Class Armstrong Works

June 24, 2016

Reece Group, visit by Phillip Dunne MP and Guy Opperman MP

Phillip Dunne MP, Phil Kite, CEO Reece Group, John Reece, Chairman Reece Group, Craig Priday, MD Pearson Engineering and Guy Opperman MP alongside Pearson’s Surface Clearance Device

Defence Minister, Philip Dunne MP, praised the unique manufacturing facilities at the Armstrong Works during his visit to the North East.

The Minister, accompanied by Hexham MP, Guy Opperman, also highlighted the vital role of innovative SMEs in the MoD supply chain.

Responsive Engineering retains the UK’s only remaining full capability to manufacture both steel and aluminium armoured structures. The Armstrong Works’ facilities, which include 50-tonne crane capacity, make the firm uniquely positioned to support Armed Forces suppliers worldwide.

Pearson Engineering Ltd, part of the Reece Group, is a world leader in the provision of counter-mine and counter-IED technology. Its latest contract win is to provide 41 Surface Mine Clearance Systems (SMCS) to the Indian Army, in conjunction with Bangalore-based Bharat Earth Moving Limited (BEML).

The order follows Pearson Engineering’s purchase of the IP and assets of renowned landmine clearance specialists MineWolf AG earlier this year.  The acquisition provides the company with a wide range of products that offer protection to civilians and NGOs working in the humanitarian demining sector and to police and civil defence forces for homeland security operations.

MineWolf’s equipment and technology have now been transferred from Switzerland and Germany to Pearson Engineering’s base in the Armstrong Works, Newcastle, former home to BAE Systems and refurbished by Reece Group with a £20m investment. A dedicated MineWolf team has been established to support customers worldwide.

Phillip Dunne MP touring Armstrong Works with Graeme Cook, MD Responsive Engineering

A range of equipment was demonstrated to Mr Dunne during his visit as he toured the state-of-the-art facilities.

Discussions also took place on the role of SMEs in the MoD supply chain. In March this year, the MoD announced changes aimed at driving towards its target of 25% of all procurement spending going to SMEs by 2020.

Mr Dunne, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, said: “I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to visit this historic factory that has played such a prominent role in defence manufacturing since the time of Lord Armstrong.

“The facility is world-class and testament to the expert manufacturing skills and innovation that we have here in the UK and the North East, producing some of the best defence equipment in the world.

“We spend £4bn a year with small firms, and our new policy is a signal of our intent to do more to tap into the innovation of SMEs in our supply chain.

“This new approach will harness UK brainpower so that our Armed Forces get the best possible equipment, deliver better value for money, and boost exciting new companies.”

Mr Opperman added: “Pearson Engineering and the Reece Group are an excellent example of first-class industry and engineering in the North East.

Phillip Dunne MP watches a live demonstration of MineWolf equipment