Pearson Engineering, in Newcastle, has secured a key contract to make the turret structures for the British Army’s Challenger 3 main battle tank (MBT).

The £25m supplier contract was awarded by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL).

The contract was announced at a steel cutting ceremony at Pearson Engineering’s facility in Newcastle, called Armstrong Works. The event was attended by Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin.

RBSL managing director Dr Marco Noeding said: “Today’s announcement marks the latest in a series of UK supplier contracts awarded by RBSL for Challenger 3, ensuring the programme benefits from the best of British engineering and manufacturing whilst also sustaining valuable skills across the country.”

According to company statements, the steel structures will host the tank’s turret subsystems.

The contract works are expected to sustain 285 skilled roles at Armstrong Works.

The contract may also prompt Pearson Engineering to invest £4m in its machining capability, as well as hire new people in technical roles.

Pearson Engineering managing director Craig Priday said: “This important contract for Pearson Engineering, delivered together with our sister company Responsive Engineering, demonstrates our success in bringing armoured vehicle manufacturing back to the North East.

“Alongside our strong export business, this multi-year project utilises the world class capabilities of our team at Armstrong Works, and allows us to further invest in skills, jobs, and the local economy.”

RBSL is upgrading 148 Challenger 3 tanks under an £800m contract.

The Challenger 3 tank will feature several upgrades including high velocity and digitally programmed ammunition, an automatic target detection, an engine cooling system, and thermal long-range cameras, among others.

Last month, Thales UK secured a contract to supply sighting systems for the upgraded Challenger 3 MBTs.