BAE Systems to Cut Nearly 1,400 Jobs in Britain

Britain has decided to reduce defense spending.

BAE Systems, the British maker of military equipment, said on Dec. 9 that it was looking to cut almost 1,400 jobs in Britain following the government's decision to reduce defense spending.

"Following a detailed review of the implications of the UK government's Strategic Defence and Security Review ... BAE Systems has announced it has started consultation regarding potential job losses" at sites across Britain, the company said.

British company BAE Systems identified 1,397 positions set to disappear, including 668 at a site in Warton, Lancashire in northwest England.

Britain recently unveiled plans to shrink its armed forces and scrap key assets like its flagship aircraft carrier, under its Strategic Defence and Security Review that forms part of savage public sector cuts. Prime Minister David Cameron said 17,000 service personnel would go from the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy by 2015 -- but vowed there would be no cuts to the level of support for forces in Afghanistan.

As part of 8% cuts to the 37 billion-pound (US$ 58 billion) defence budget, the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier is also being scrapped, as is Britain's fleet of Harrier jets.

The cuts are aimed at slashing a record-high public deficit for Britain, caused by the global financial crisis.

"Since the publication of the SDSR in October we have taken time to understand the implications for our business," Kevin Taylor, managing director of BAE Systems Military Air Solutions said. "We have recently received termination for customer convenience notices for the Nimrod MRA4 and Harrier (jet) contracts and this has regrettably led us to initiating consultation regarding potential job losses."

He added: "Today's announcement is designed to ensure we remain competitive as we actively pursue a number of opportunities for our other products and services both in the UK and internationally."

BAE Systems had already announced in September a reduction of 740 jobs across five sites in Britain which it blamed on reduced workload on aircraft projects such as the Hawk jet.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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