Lockheed Martin to slash 1,200 jobs in space systems unit

BETHESDA, Md. – Lockheed Martin is cutting nearly 8 percent of jobs in its space systems unit, a move that will improve efficiencies but affect workers in California and Pennsylvania.

The company on Tuesday said about 1,200 employees would be removed in a combination of voluntary and involuntary layoffs. Most of the workers belong to middle management, which will be reduced by 25 percent.

The defense contractor’s space systems unit employs 16,000 workers in a dozen states to develop and manufacture technology ranging from ballistic missiles and missile defense shields, to human space flight systems, space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft.

Lockheed is working to remain competitive following a decline in commercial and public sector orders, combined with the recession and increased competitive activity.

Orders for space satellites are down. In addition, the U.S. Congress has decided to end the government’s use of F-22 Raptors in favor of the F-35, which military officials say is a more nimble and versatile fighter jet.

Apart from the layoffs in facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Delaware Valley, Pa., the workforce reduction will affect the company’s plant in Denver. The cuts will be completed by the end of the year.

“In today’s economic environment, we have two choices: make painful decisions now or pay a greater price down the road. This is a difficult but necessary action to improve efficiencies and make our business more competitive going forward,” Joanne Maguire, executive vice president for the space systems unit, said in a statement.

“We will remain relentlessly focused on achieving operational excellence and mission success for our customers as we position to deliver more affordably in the future,” she added.