June 30, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas - Defense contractor Lockheed Martin plans to cut 1,500 additional jobs, saying Thursday that it needs to reduce costs at a time when the Pentagon has pared back spending.
The announcement of job cuts within its airplane-making business arrives just two weeks after the company announced 1,200 job cuts in its space systems equipment division. Lockheed Martin employs about 126,000 people worldwide.
National budgetary pressures have prompted the Obama administration and Congress to pare back defense spending. A House panel this month approved a defense spending bill that puts limits on the number of U.S. dollars going into Iraq and Afghanistan.
That is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama requested.
Lockheed Martin Corp. said many of the aeronautics cuts will fall among higher-paid workers at its biggest facilities in Fort Worth, Marietta, Ga., and Palmdale, Calif. There are smaller centers in Florida, Texas, West Virginia, Mississippi and South Carolina. The aeronautics business has about 28,000 employees.
The company, based in Bethesda, Md., says it will offer "voluntary layoffs" to eligible workers in August and begin layoffs in mid-September, with a target of cutting 1,500 jobs.
"We're taking bold action to respond to changes in the defense business environment," said Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout. He said government customers were pressing the company to produce planes at lower costs.
The layoffs could be the aeronautics division's largest in several years, Stout said. The Fort Worth assembly plant hired about 5,000 workers after it won a Pentagon contract in 2001 to build a new fighter that could be used by the Navy, Air Force and Marines. The plant now has about 15,000 workers.
Shares of Lockheed Martin Corp. rose 54 cents to $80.91 in afternoon trading.