A MULTIMILLION pound investment in Crewe was given the royal seal of approval this morning, as Princess Anne opened the new BAE facility at Radway Green.

Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal cut the red ribbon on the £83 million factory, following in the footsteps of her father, Price Philip, who opened the original site 35 years ago.

The new small arms ammunition manufacturing centre replaces the current facility in C Block, opened in March 1979 by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Considered Europe’s centre of excellence for bulk ammunition production, it has a capacity to produce one million rounds per day.

Minister for defence equipment, support and technology, Philip Dunne, said: “Thanks to a £2bn investment from the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, a state of the art munitions facility has today opened in Radway Green.

“Capable of producing one million rounds every day it will not only protect 450 local jobs but leaves no doubt of British expertise and skills in manufacturing. This is not only a vital boost for the local economy, but will improve supplies to our armed forces on the frontline.”

The facility promises to ensure an improved supply of UK-manufactured ammunition to the front line.

A spokesman for BAE Systems said: “It is a major transformation in terms of efficiency, productivity and cost effectiveness.

“The change is part of an innovative 15-year £2 billion partnering agreement called MASS, Munitions Acquisition - the Supply Solution, signed in August 2008 with the Ministry of Defence.

“The agreement commits the MoD and BAE Systems to working together and has proven a great success, delivering increased supplies of ammunition on time to front-line troops.”

Ian Anderton, munitions managing director, said: “The official opening is a major milestone in the modernisation of our UK’s munitions manufacturing facilities.

“This facility alongside similar transformed facilities at Glascoed, South Wales and Washington, near Newcastle will help drive down costs and maximise future efficiencies to the benefit of our customers, both in the UK and in our export markets.”