HOPES are high that the new £16.5bn increase in defence spending will pay dividends for manufacturing in Bolton and across the north west.

One of the world's leading missile makers, MBDA, has a sprawling site in Lostock.

And several local firms, like Silcoms at Farnworth and Boldman, are heavily involved in the aerospace supply chain.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson mapped out a four-year approach to the sector earlier this week, including proposals to bolster all three principal services.

An agency will be devoted to artificial intelligence and a 'space command' will work towards the departure of the UK's first rocket in 2022.

The announcement has been broadly welcomed by a Bolton MP who has MBDA on his doorstep.

Chris Green, the Bolton West MP, said: "It's clear that there are increasing military threats around the world, and the best way to obtain and maintain peace is to be prepared for conflict.

"MBDA and other firms across the North West are a key part of this country's defence scheme so I welcome the government announcement of funding that will secure the companies who produce these military assets right here in Bolton.

"It's a good regional boost and there's a number of smaller ships being commission as well so fingers crossed those can be built in British shipyards too."

One of MBDA's partners in perhaps the most ambitious military project on Britain's books, the future air fighter Tempest, has been bullish about the defence cash injection.

The missile manufacturer is working with BAE Systems, Leonardo and Rolls-Royce on a combat initiative, focusing on artificial intelligence and aeronautics, which should be operational by 2035.

Charles Woodburn, BAE's chief executive, said: “We welcome the UK Government’s increased investment in defence and security, which plays a key role supporting the prosperity of our nation through investment in thousands of highly-skilled jobs and cutting-edge technology.

“We look forward to working with the Ministry of Defence to understand and support the detailed programme implications.”

Work is already underway to perfect intuitive flying systems which enable critical decisions to be made by sight and reflex alone.

The Prime Minister's plans will see the UK spend more on defence than any other Nato member except the United States. Mr Johnson said successive governments had pared backed defence spending.