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UK defence giant BAE Systems to cut almost 2,000 jobs

Most of the military air job cuts will go in 2018 and 2019, while BAE plans to achieve as many voluntary redundancies as possible.

world Updated: Oct 10, 2017 17:55 IST
A Sept. 7, 2012 file photo of a Eurofighter Typhoon at BAE Systems, Warton Aerodrome, near Warton northwest England.
A Sept. 7, 2012 file photo of a Eurofighter Typhoon at BAE Systems, Warton Aerodrome, near Warton northwest England. (AP File Photo)

British military equipment maker BAE Systems said Tuesday it plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs, mainly owing to weaker demand for Hawk and Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

There will be cutbacks in BAE’s military, maritime and intelligence services divisions under moves to streamline the group overall.

“To ensure production continuity at competitive costs... and based on the profile of currently contracted and expected aircraft deliveries, actions continue to be taken to reduce the group’s current Typhoon and Hawk production rates,” BAE said in a trading update. “As a result, the group has today announced a proposal to reduce the workforce of the military air and information business by up to 1,400 roles.”

Those job losses will fall across five sites over the next three years, including Warton and Samlesbury in northwestern England, where Eurofighter warplanes are assembled.

Approximately 375 redundancies will also hit BAE’s maritime servicing and support business, mainly affecting Portsmouth on the south coast.

The company’s cyber intelligence business in London and nearby Guildford will lose about 150 jobs.

BAE faces slowing demand for the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, developed with the help of Italy’s Finmeccanica and Airbus as part of a European consortium.

At the same time, the group is easing back Hawk production ahead of an expected order from Qatar.

Most of the military air job cuts will go in 2018 and 2019, while BAE plans to achieve as many voluntary redundancies as possible.

“The organisational changes we are announcing today accelerate our evolution to a more streamlined... organisation, with a sharper competitive edge and a renewed focus on technology,” wrote BAE chief executive Charles Woodburn. “These actions will further strengthen our company as we deliver our strategy in a changing environment.”

BAE’s share price was down 0.2% in late morning deals on London’s rising stock market following the announcement.

“Those actions are necessary and the right thing to do for our company, but unfortunately include proposed redundancies at a number of operations,” Woodburn added. “I recognise this will be difficult news for some of our employees.”

Britain’s biggest trade union Unite blasted the announcement as a “short-sighted” move that would hurt the country’s defence capability.

“These planned job cuts will not only undermine Britain’s sovereign defence capability, but devastate communities across the UK who rely on these skilled jobs and the hope of a decent future they give to future generations,” said Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner. “These devastatingly short-sighted cuts will harm communities, jobs and skills.”