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02:15 PM, October 9, 2017
Uncertainty over Eurofighter Typhoon Orders May Force Job Cuts at BAE Systems
Eurofighter Typhoon file photo

BAE Systems is likely to axe more than 1,000 jobs this week following reducing orders for its flagship fighter jet, the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Sky News reported it has learnt that BAE will announce that many of the job cuts will affect its Warton plant in Preston, Lancashire, with the company's new chief executive, Charles Woodburn, also "trimming" its workforce at other locations.

The Warton job cuts are understood to relate largely to a continued slowdown in production of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft, with ongoing uncertainty about the timing of a potentially large order from Saudi Arabia.

Insiders said the number of jobs being axed would number "well over 1,000", although the precise figure was unclear on Monday. BAE employs 34,600 people in the UK, nearly half of its 83,000-strong global workforce.

BAE announced last month that it had secured an order for 24 of the combat aircraft from Qatar, a deal hailed by the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon as "an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence co-operation between our two countries".

However, defence industry sources raised doubts whether Qatar would go ahead with the BAE Systems deal in view of it earlier having inked an agreement with Dassault Systems to purchase 24 Rafale fighter jets. Some termed its agreement with the UK and BAE Systems as ‘weapons purchase diplomacy,’ intended to buy political support at a time when it was facing a blockade by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.

The news will come just three months after Mr Woodburn replaced Ian King as BAE's chief executive, and will reflect some of his initial thinking about the cost base of one of Britain's most important manufacturers, according to insiders.

"We obviously have to review our (Typhoon) production demand very carefully," Mr Woodburn said in August. We are confident that we will win further Typhoon orders, what we can't be confident around is the timing."

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