NEW defence contracts worth £365 million will secure 140 high-skilled Valleys jobs, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The MoD has awarded two five-year contracts to General Dynamics to provide design, engineering and logistic support for the Bowman radio system.

Some 140 jobs at the firm’s site in Oakdale, near Blackwood, will be secured by the contracts, according to the ministry.

Last year General Dynamics benefited from a £45 million contract for the same radio system, which is used by personnel across the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

It uses an encrypted frequency and has been deployed with British troops in Afghanistan, on Royal Navy ships during relief efforts in the Philippines and by the Royal Air Force when providing air support to land operations.

Defence minister Philip Dunne said: “I am delighted that these significant contracts will protect 140 skilled engineering jobs in South Wales, allow us to deliver better value for money for the taxpayer, and most importantly ensure personnel on operations have the secure equipment they need.”

Chief operating officer General Dynamics UK, Steve Rowbotham, said: “With our proven supply chain and support infrastructure, General Dynamics UK is uniquely placed to successfully deliver these contracts.”

The Oakdale plant has been involved in making the military radio system since it opened in 2002.

In July 2009, defence contracts worth £231 million were awarded to the firm for the development of the communication system, which at the time helped to safeguard 800 jobs.

In December 2012, first minister Carwyn Jones officially opened the firm’s Centre for Future Army Systems at Oakdale Business Park.

The Argus then reported that the firm was employing 385 people on a £12 million site in Oakdale to design and engineer the British Army’s Specialist Vehicle, a project worth almost £10 billion over the next 15 years.