Thales UK has secured a £98.4m (approximately $137m) contract extension to maintain the Short-Range Air Defence (SHORAD) for the Royal Marines and British Army.

The contract supports 119 jobs at Thales UK’s Belfast site and within the wider Northern Ireland supply chain.

Thales UK initially won the contract in 2018 to modernise and develop the missile systems under the Future Air Defence Availability Project (F-ADAPT) programme.

The F-ADAPT programme is aimed at providing the ‘Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Royal Marines’ with their air defence weapon systems.

According to a statement issued by the British Government, the latest contract comes as a five-year extension to the original contract.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “During these uncertain times, I am delighted that the investment of over £98m will protect over 100 skilled jobs in Belfast. I would like to congratulate all those involved who have secured this vital investment.”

The SHORAD missile systems can be fired from three platform variants and can deliver ‘rapid potent attack capability’.

The three platform variants include a ‘Shoulder-Launch’ for single fire, a ‘Lightweight Multiple Launcher’ capable of firing three missiles via a tripod, and a ‘Self-Propelled launcher’ to fire up to eight missiles from a Stormer armoured vehicle.

UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “This contract ensures the vital air defence capabilities, capable of dealing with a multitude of threats, are maintained and readily available to deploy.

“The £98.4m investment is the second major contract awarded to Northern Ireland’s defence industry in less than three months highlighting Northern Ireland’s important contribution to the delivery of our critical defence capabilities.”