Hundreds of jobs are understood to be at risk at planemaker BAE Systems as part of a review of the management structure.
The company, which employs 11,000 people at its Warton and Samlesbury sites, is said to be poised to make wide-ranging cuts among its executive staff. No official announcements have been made, and the company said today it was communicating with staff about the review.
Chris Boardman, managing director of the Military Air and Information Division, is understood to have told staff that the number of executive roles would be “noticeably reduced”.
One BAE worker said: “Rumours have been around for months about an executive cull.
“Supposedly between 150 and 450 jobs are to go.”
The company employs around 13,000 in the entire division. Of those, around 2,000 are executive positions.
A BAE Systems spokesman said: “BAE Systems continually reviews its operations to ensure we are running as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“The business faces a number of challenges and with an extremely competitive global defence market, affordability is becoming an increasingly key element of securing business.
“To achieve a profitable and sustainable long-term business, success in the market is essential and we need to ensure we are in the best possible position to secure those opportunities.
“As always, should any issues arise that directly affect our employees then our policy is to communicate with our employees first through the normal channels.”
BAE Systems makes the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Hawk, and part of the American F-35.
Another BAE worker said: “We have heard up to 500 jobs could go by the year end. We will find out more at the end of September.”
The news comes weeks after the group reported a 10 per cent drop in sales in the first half of the year.
The planemaking giant reported sales of £7.6 billion.
Operating profit was £689 million, compared to £752 million in the same period last year.
The company has been hit by defence spending cuts, but has a large order backlog and a £72m contract to work on new radar systems in Typhoons for the RAF.
Ian King, chief executive, said at the time that sales were expected to be weighted towards the second half of the year.
He said recently: “Operationally, the group continues to perform well, benefiting from good programme performance on its large order backlog of almost £40bn.
“We continue to see a high level of activity in international markets, including from our substantial presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, while the US and UK environments remain more constrained.”
He added: “Sales are anticipated to be weighted towards the second half of 2014, including the timing of Typhoon aircraft deliveries.“
Mr Boardman said recently: “The market for air defence products and services remains highly competitive.
“We are responding to this challenge by enhancing our offering while continuing our focus on cost.”