Lockheed Martin Corp. plans to hand out pink slips to about 600 workers across the country in its Mission Systems and Training division, which includes its Orlando simulation technology operation, the company said Wednesday.
Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed plans to notify the affected workers on Nov. 6. No details were available regarding how many jobs would be eliminated in Orlando or any other specific site of Mission Systems and Training, based in Washington, D.C.
The cutback would be a reduction of nearly 4 percent of the division's 16,000 employees, spokesman Keith Little said. The division employs about 1,700 at its Orlando training solutions business. It has 100 locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
Lockheed cited military spending uncertainty, contract award delays and increased competition in the defense industry. The move is not directly related to the government shutdown or across-the-board deficit-reduction budget cuts, known as sequestration, Little said.
"While the government shutdown did impact our business, this action is independent from that event," Little said in a prepared statement. "We are looking across all our locations in the U.S. to determine how to best make these reductions while continuing to deliver on our customer commitments."
Lockheed would be the second defense contractor in as many months to carry out layoffs at Central Florida simulation training operations. San Diego-based Cubic Corp. confirmed an unspecified number of layoffs in September. The company cited the Pentagon budget crunch and funding delays triggered by sequestration.
Experts still expect Central Florida's high-tech training industry — considered the largest cluster of such companies and agencies in the country — to weather the defense downturn in good shape. However, the latest layoffs indicate companies are rattled by the federal government's budget battles.
"I think all of this is being driven by uncertainty," said Randall Shumaker, director of UCF's Institute for Simulation & Training. "The military agencies we deal with just don't know for sure what funds they'll have and what they'll be able to do. Everyone's trying to hedge their bets."
Lockheed's latest layoffs are clearly not targeting just its training operations, said Michael Macedonia, a former defense executive and UCF's assistant vice president for research and commercialization.
"That mission systems group does far more than simulation work," he said. "This is just a sign that the defense business is simply a tough business right now and companies are doing their best to mitigate the impact of the budgets cuts they're going through."
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