Raytheon closures mean 850 job losses

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RAYTHEON, the American aerospace company, is shedding 850 jobs with the closure of two British plants making corporate jets, writes Russell Hotten.

The jobs will go over the next three years at Broughton, Clwyd, and Hatfield, Hertfordshire, as Raytheon stops production of the Hawker 1000 aircraft and slows manufacture of the Hawker 800.

The work will be transferred to the company's factory in Kansas by 1997. Raytheon bought the corporate jets business from British Aerospace for pounds 250m last year, agreeing to the supply of airframe assemblies from BAe for three years.

Raytheon said the contract would be honoured, though there are fears of more job losses at BAe's factory sited next to Raytheon's.

The American company said the decision to move the business to the US was driven by weak worldwide demand for the 8-12- seat aircaft. It added that significant savings would be made by merging the British business with Raytheon's own Beech unit in the US.

A total of 550 jobs will be lost at Broughton, with 170 going immediately and the rest disappearing by 1997. About 300 jobs are going at Hatfield, 143 of them straight away.

John Redwood, Welsh Secretary, said the job losses at Broughton would be a heavy blow to the area, which has above average unemployment of 11 per cent. Labour's employment spokesman, Tony Lloyd, accused Raytheon of asset-stripping and throwing workers on the dole.

Broughton's plane-making skills go back to World War Two when the factory produced Wellington bombers.