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BAE Systems to cut 1,000 jobs amid slowdown in Typhoon jet orders

Iain Withers
A Typhoon jet - Getty Images

BAE Systems is set to axe more than 1,000 jobs, with the bulk at its Typhoon fighter jet factory in Lancashire, in a huge hit to the UK manufacturing sector.

The firm is expected to make an announcement on redundancies, first reported by Sky News, today or tomorrow amid a slowdown in Typhoon orders.

It would be the first big move by new BAE chief executive Charles Woodburn, who took the helm of the defence contractor from long-standing boss Ian King three months ago.

BAE had been hoping to strike a major contract with Saudi Arabia - which purchased 72 Typhoon jets 10 years ago - but this has so far not been forthcoming.

Its factory at Warton in Preston is currently fulfilling an order for 12 aircraft struck with Oman in 2012. Last month defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon signed a statement of intent with the Qatari government for a potential further 24 jets.

BAE Systems share price

Union Unite called on BAE to end the uncertainty for its workers and for an urgent meeting with the company on its plans. It also urged the government to "buy British" and to stop giving defence contracts to US firms.

Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general secretary, said:  “The UK government can end the uncertainty surrounding the future of thousands of British BAE defence jobs at a stroke by committing to building the next generation fighter jets here in the UK.

“If these job cuts materialise it will significantly undermine our nation’s sovereign defence capability and leave us reliant on foreign powers and foreign companies for the successor to the Typhoon and the defence of the nation."

BAE is one of Britain’s largest manufacturers, employing 34,600 people, comprising nearly half the firm’s global workforce.

At the time of BAE's half-year results in August Mr Woodburn flagged the firm would reassess its jet manufacturing plans, saying: “We obviously have to review our [Typhoon] production demand very carefully.

"We are confident we will win further Typhoon orders, what we can’t be confident around is the timing.” 

A BAE spokeswoman said: "BAE Systems continually reviews its operations to make sure we are performing as effectively and efficiently as possible, delivering our commitments to existing customers and ensuring we are best placed to secure future business.

"If and when there are any changes proposed, we are committed to communicating with our employees and their representatives first."