SOME 25 jobs have been saved in Oxfordshire after a new contract was awarded to a helicopter firm.

Airbus Helicopters, based at Oxford Airport, has been chosen to continue its operational support to the RAF Puma 2 fleet, based at RAF Benson.

The contract for the work, which includes repair and training services, is worth an initial £100 million.

It will see the company provide technical support and logistics until March 2022 with a possibility of an extension until March 2025.

Local MP John Howell, who has raised the issue of the future of Puma 2 in the House of Commons, said he was 'delighted' to see the contract awarded and that it was 'essential' to the future of the RAF base. 

He added: "There were rumours that the Puma 2 was on its way out. But this suggests otherwise. 

"We only have to look at the contribution that these aircraft have made to operations around the world: whether deploying in Afghanistan in support of Operation Toral or supporting vital aid in the Caribbean following the recent hurricane disasters, the Pumas have shown their enormous ability to be ready for operations within a few hours of arrival, and they make an ideal platform to support special forces."

Ian Morris, the head of UK defence programmes at Airbus Helicopters, said the contract renewal 're-affirms the confidence' that the MOD has in his company's ability to support forces on operations, often in very demanding conditions.