Byline: By Guy Anderson
More than 30 defence companies in the North are preparing to share in a pounds 300m contract as a major military project moves closer.
United Defence - the American giant pushing ahead with a billion-pound vision of a new naval weapon - has drawn up the final list of 35 contractors in the region who will make the Type 45 weapon a reality.
The defence companies are due to meet here on April 20 to discuss the next stage of the project.
North MPs were briefed on the importance of the contract last week by regional industry lobby group Northern Defence Industries.
United Defence has spent more than a year recruiting companies here for the 10-year contract.
Representatives of United Defence were attracted by Northern Defence Industries, which represents 170 defence companies.
NDI chief executive David Bowles said: "United Defence has made it clear that 100pc of the Mk45 gun will be made in the UK for the British and European markets. That represents an investment of pounds 500m.
"Around 35 companies in the region across the defence contracting spectrum are looking forward to a decade of work."
The Type 45 destroyers which are likely to be equipped with the Mk45 gun are currently under construction at BAE System's shipyard in Glasgow. …