London: Hit by reduced defence spending and lack of contracts, defence giant BAE Systems Tuesday said it is cutting almost 3,000 jobs at sites across the country, mainly in its military aircraft division.
India is one of the major export markets the company is looking to win contracts for the Eurofighter Typoon.
Ian King, Chief Executive, BAE Systems said: "Our customers are facing huge pressures on their defence budgets and affordability has become an increasing priority. Our business needs to rise to this challenge to maintain its competitiveness and ensure its long term future."
He added: "Some of our major programmes have seen significant changes. The four partner nations in the Typhoon programme have agreed to slow production rates to help ease their budget pressures."
King said that pressure on the US defence budget and top level programme changes meant that the anticipated increase in F-35 production rates will be slower than originally planned, impacting on the company’s expected workload.
He said: "To ensure we remain competitive, both in the UK and internationally, we need to reduce the overall costs of our businesses in-line with our reduced workload."
Union leaders said staff were "distraught and tearful" at the news.
BAE employs 40,000 people in the UK, and 100,000 worldwide, and the biggest job cuts will be at sites in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Most of the cuts will be made in BAE's military aircraft division, which is being affected by a slowdown in orders for the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft.
Unite, the biggest union at BAE, said it would meet management on Tuesday "and we will be doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of these cuts."
"The government cannot sit on its hands and allow these highly skilled jobs to disappear," it said in a statement.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This news from BAE Systems will be a serious knock to the individuals and communities affected".