HIGHLY-SKILLED engineers at an aeronautical factory in Runcorn are leading the world.

Graham Evans, Conservative MP for Weaver Vale, praised workers as he was shown how the landing gear for the Saab Gripen fighter jet is manufactured at the APPH plant in Manor Park.

The plane, made for the Swedish Air Force, distinguished itself last year supporting the UN no fly zone in Libya.

Gripen is the first of the new generation, multi-role fighter aircraft to enter operational service.

Using the latest technology it is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions employing the latest weapons.

Tony Ogilvy, Saab vice president of international marketing, joined the tour and explained the importance of Saab’s relationships with its UK suppliers, such as APPH, who deliver world class products.

UK supplilers provide around a third of the parts for the Gripen aircraft.

He commended the work done at APPH in Pembroke Court.

The company provides four graduates with jobs each year .

Mr Evans stressed the importance of UK manufacturing to maintaining and projecting Nato’s military presence.

He said: “I was very pleased to visit APPH to find out more about their work.

“It is fantastic to see small companies working with international manufacturers to produce highly specialised and complex machinery which is renowned the world over.

“This is an example of how the north west leads not just the UK, but the world, in innovation and progressive technology.”