A Sheffield-owned company has won a £70m contract to make tracks for the British Army’s armoured vehicles.
Cook Defence Systems, part of the William Cook Group, has signed a four-year deal with the Ministry of Defence. It secures 110 jobs at the company’s factory in County Durham - and many more throughout its UK supply chain.
The group also has two factories in Sheffield - one off the Parkway and in Holbrook - and one in Leeds.
Cook Defence Systems designs and manufacturers track systems for armoured vehicles including the 62-tonne Challenger 2 main battle tank, Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and Scimitar reconnaissance vehicle.
The award by the MoD continues a long history with The William Cook Group, a Sheffield steelmaker which traces its history back to 1840. William Cook factories have manufactured tracks and armour for British tanks since the Second World War.
Chairman Andrew Cook said: “We welcome this new contract, which secures the British Army’s strategic on-shore supply of this essential equipment. The present fragile situation in Eastern Europe and the Middle East especially emphasises the importance of Britain maintaining a strong and independent armoured warfare capability.”
The William Cook Group also makes components and assemblies for the rail, energy, oil and mining industries as well as for high-profile construction projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5.
The group has spent £8m in the last two years modernising its design and manufacturing facilities.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the 2014 NATO summit that the MoD would buy 589 of the new AJAX tanks.
Cook Defence Systems has designed a new track system, potentially for use with AJAX.
William Cook, general manager of Cook Defence Systems, said: “Tank tracks may appear low-tech compared to drones, but as armoured vehicles become heavier and more powerful we have to use the latest manufacturing and materials technologies to minimise the weight and maximise the lifespan of the track.”