Missile jobs fall to latest BAe axe

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The Independent Online
BRITISH AEROSPACE is to cut more than 510 jobs in its defence dynamics division, which manufactures guided weapons, because of falling sales. The company blamed continuing tough conditions in the market and decisions by some customers to cancel or defer orders.

Reductions in staff will fall most heavily on the missile manufacturing plant at Lostock in Lancashire, where 330 jobs will go. A further 160 jobs will be cut at the research and design operation in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and another 20 at a software development centre in Bristol.

The dynamics division depends on the Government for a large proportion of sales, but defence exports are also suffering.

A BAe spokesman said that further reductions might be necessary if the market did not improve. 'We would like to think we are getting through to the end of the reorganisation, but as with all our businesses, it has to be market-driven.'

BAe said it had good prospects for selling the Asraam air-to-air missile and the Rapier 2000 air-defence system.

The job reductions are thought not to be related to talks with Matra-Hachette of France on joint production of missiles. BAe said that these talks were continuing and both sides were committed to a deal. Discussions are not expected to be concluded in the near future, however.

Last week BAe announced 830 redundancies at its civil aircraft and aero-structure plants. Worst hit were the regional jet operations at Woodford, near Manchester, and at Hatfield in Hertfordshire. These cuts followed the collapse of negotiations to sell half of the regional jet business to Taiwan Aerospace Corporation.

BAe's spokesman said yesterday that the company remained in contact with the Taiwan corporation and still wanted some sort of joint venture for the regional jets business. 'But it has got to be the right deal.'

The group is also seeking partners for the loss-making turboprop operation at Prestwick in Scotland, where 2,000 people are employed.