Union leaders said they were shocked after Qinetiq announced plans to cut almost 400 jobs under a restructuring of the business.
The defence technology and securoty company, which employs 6,500 staff in the UK, said about 130 jobs could be cut in Farnborough, Hampshire, and about 230 jobs might go in Malvern, Worcestershire. It blamed the potential cuts on a challenging business environment.
Qinetiq said its decision to restructure the company followed a review of its advice and technology solutions group businesses and its corporate headquarters in Farnborough. A further review of the rest of the company will take place over the summer, including discussions with Qinetiq's primary British customer, the Ministry of Defence. The chief executive Leo Quinn said: "As we announced in May, our markets are likely to remain uncertain for some time, but we have a decisive programme of self-help to restore value. We are acting to make our costs more competitive and improve our productivity."
The Prospect union, which represents 2,000 specialists at Qinetiq, said it was shocked by the scale of redundancies and feared this was the "tip of an iceberg". Propect's national officer, David Luxton, said the number of job losses showed how cuts in public expenditure directly affected private-sector jobs in vital parts of the economy.
"Our members in Qinetiq give a technological edge to our armed forces which is evident in current military operations," he said. "The loss of so many skilled and innovative scientists and engineers will inevitably [affect] the UK's defence capabilities. QinetiQ has begun a 90-day consultation with unions, initially on 391 job losses, but it is expected that more than 700 jobs will disappear during that period."
The announcement came after Qinetiq agreed reduced redundancy terms with the unions.