In a visit spanning the length of the country, Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, and UK Government Minister for Wales Nigel Adams, inspected some of the Welsh bases contributing to the UK’s vital defence capabilities…

From speaking to those undertaking fast jet training in Hawk aircraft at RAF Valley to exploring the School of Technical Training at St Athan, the Ministers saw first-hand what Wales has to offer in defence, security and innovation. On their visit to RAF St. Athan, they met representatives from the Welsh-based RAF and army and discussed their ambition for the future of the south Wales base.

RAF Valley on Anglesey is home to the No 4 Flying Training School, responsible for training the UK’s next generation of world-class fighter pilots. On what was the Defence Secretary’s first visit to the base, the Ministers had the chance to meet some of the 2,210 regular UK Armed Forces personnel based in Wales and hear their experiences on the Anglesey base and further afield.

With a total investment of £945 million from the UK Government’s Ministry of Defence into Welsh businesses in 2016/17, Wales is now one of the most competitive places in the world from which to innovate, build business and deliver security. The Ministers reinforced this vital support for the Welsh defence sector and outlined their visions for its future.

Gavin Williamson said: “The 2,210 regular and 1,080 reservist Armed Forces personnel in Wales make a tremendous contribution to the security and prosperity of the United Kingdom. Wales is home to our 160 Brigade HQ, a light infantry unit, the fast jet pilot training school at RAF Valley and their ground engineering school at MOD St Athan, as well as vital training facilities around Brecon.

“Defence invests £945 million each year with businesses in Wales supporting 6,300 jobs, from General Dynamics in Merthyr Tydfil, building armoured vehicles for the Army, to the high tech work of Qinetiq in Aberporth, and the Defence Electronics and Components Agency in Flintshire, which supports our new world-beating RAF F-35 fast jets.”

Following the visit to the two RAF bases, the UK Government Ministers learned of the invaluable support provided to veterans in south Wales. Helping veterans to re-engage with their families and communities, Woody’s Lodge provides a welcoming space for veterans to receive expert support and advice.

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns said: “Following the recent launch of the UK-wide Veteran’s Strategy by the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Office, it is inspiring to visit an organisation that for many years has been working towards achieving some of the strategy’s core aims here in south Wales.

“Woody’s lodge supports Veterans to face some of the wide variety of challenges and issues that Veterans can come across when they leave the armed forces. By visiting such organisations, the UK Government can gain a better insight into these challenges and ensure that we are fully informed to deliver a strategy that works.”