NASHUA — BAE Systems, the state’s largest manufacturing employer, is bracing for a new era of reduced military spending with a roughly 3-percent cut in its U.S. workforce, triggering the loss of about 200 jobs in southern New Hampshire.
The company announced on Monday that it will reduce its 11,000 employee workforce by 300 positions. The cuts will happen at facilities in southern New Hampshire; Wayne, N.J.; Greenlawn and Endicott, N.Y.; Manassas, Va.; and Austin, Texas.
“This was a very difficult decision for our company, but a necessary response to changing staffing requirements and the overall economic climate for our industry,” said Kristin L. Gossel, director of external engagement for BAE’s Electronic Systems division, headquartered in Arlington, Va.
The cuts will be spread across all job disciplines and businesses, she said.
BAE Electronic Systems has about 4,600 employees at sites in Nashua, Hudson and Merrimack. A reduction of 200 workers amounts to a 4.3-percent cut in New Hampshire.
The company has set a target date of March 4 to complete the layoffs. Laid-off employees will be eligible for a package of severance, health benefits and outplacement assistance.
“While unfortunate, we believe the end result of this action will be a stronger, more competitive business able to continue to meet or exceed our customers’ expectations,” Gossel said.
The 2011 compromise to raise the debt ceiling imposes $487 billion in cuts to defense spending in the next decade, and that’s not counting another $500 billion in cuts that could be coming if Congress does not avert plans for deeper reductions through “sequestration,” the other part of the debt ceiling deal.
The U.S. officially ended the Iraq War and the wind-down will soon begin in Afghanistan, after a decade of increased defense spending in the wake of 9/11.
“We’re looking at downturns in the defense budget, changes in where our soldiers are and changes in needs. We want to make sure we remain competitive,” Gossel said. “This is looking where we are today, and where we think we’re going. This is not because of sequestration. Obviously, that is something we’re concerned about, but we’re not taking this action because of that.”
BAE Systems in New Hampshire has received several large defense contracts recently, including $81 million for the targeting and detection components of anti-ballistic missile systems in December; and $241 million for work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jet earlier this month.
But the F-35 program, which accounts for a significant portion of BAE work, has hit some turbulence lately. Canada recently cancelled plans to purchase 65 of the aircraft, according to the Ottawa Citizen, amid growing concerns over cost increases and production delays.
Turkey announced on Jan. 11 that it has postponed the purchase of its first two F-35s, according to Gannet Defense News, but said it still intends to buy 100 in the long run.
The U.S. is in a partnership with several allies to produce and deploy the multi-purpose jet designed to replace an aging fighter fleet, with Lockheed-Martin as the main contractor.
The last layoff at BAE in southern New Hampshire was in March, when 50 employees lost their jobs as part of cutbacks throughout the Electronic Systems division totalling about 100.