The Belfast team of employees celebrated their contribution to the Royal Navy’s last flagship after the departure of the £ 3bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Workers at the Thales site in the capital of Northern Ireland designed and manufactured one of the key pieces protecting the new 65,000-ton vessel – a missile system on the Navy’s Wildcat helicopter.
The light multirole missile (LMM) – called Martlet by the Navy – recently entered sea service after completing live fire trials with manufacturer Wildcat Leonardo.
It is already in service with other land-based British armed forces as well as in the Middle East and Asia.
At sea, the LMM was designed to defend against smaller, faster targets or neutralizing precision targets on board a ship.
HMS Queen Elizabeth also benefits from contributions from a number of other Thales sites across the UK.
The ship will be protected by an Astute-class submarine, which has been fitted with an optronic mast – a sophisticated sensor that replaced the traditional underwater periscope – made in Glasgow, and Thales Sonar 2076 from Somerset and Manchester.
Belfast site manager Philip McBride said the departure of HMS Queen Elizabeth was “a moment of great pride for all employees”.
“We are normally proud of what we do and continue to work, but this is a high profile global event and so we have to celebrate the success,” he said.
“Key to the development of the LMM system and the other portfolio of capabilities we design, manufacture and integrate in Belfast is our large pool of skills and experience established over many years. “
The Belfast site employs over 500 people in highly skilled jobs in defense and space solutions and technologies.
Mr McBride added: “We also have a very strong supply chain in Northern Ireland, where we work together and use their expertise and ability to work in an agile and flexible manner.
“This is essential to the way we operate today and in the future.
“Northern Ireland has already had a solid reputation for its engineering pedigree and I think being part of Carrier Strike Group 21 is the final chapter in this story.
“This is an exciting time for us as we continue to implement the strategy to grow our business in Belfast and our local supply chain. “
Thales is a founding member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, along with Babcock, BAE and the Department of Defense, which built HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales.
Thales also supplied the state-of-the-art communications system, the long-range radar and led the power and propulsion sub-alliance.