BAE protects 380 jobs with US howitzer deal


Europe’s biggest defence contractor BAE Systems has won a US$134 million (85 million pounds) deal from the US for 70 M777 howitzers, potentially safeguarding 380 British jobs.

The company said the weapons will be manufactured in Barrow-in-Furness, northern England, in a program to run until October 2013.

Final assembly will take place in Mississippi in the United States. The howitzers will be used by the US Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, Reuters reports.

BAE Systems on Tuesday had announced 2,942 job losses due to smaller global defence budgets hitting orders for its fighter jets.

BAE, which has been criticized by unions for its staff reductions, is also facing some internal pressure to break-up the company in the face of squeezed defence budgets, perhaps selling or demerging its US arm, according to British newspaper reports on Sunday.

BAE declined to comment on the media speculation when contacted by Reuters.