Lockheed Martin aims to trim 1,000 jobs with voluntary buyouts

The white-collar job cuts at Lockheed Martin will not affect plans to hire assembly workers for increased production of F-35s in Fort Worth.
The white-collar job cuts at Lockheed Martin will not affect plans to hire assembly workers for increased production of F-35s in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

Lockheed Martin is looking to trim about 1,000 white-collar positions from its Fort Worth-based aeronautics division through voluntary layoffs, the company said Tuesday.

Buyout offers are being made to mid-level salaried employees throughout the division which includes operations in Fort Worth; Marietta, Georgia; Palmdale, California; Meridian, Mississippi; Clarksburg, West Virginia; Patuxent River, Maryland; and Edwards Air Force Base in California.

About 9,000 employees are eligible for the voluntary layoff from areas including engineering, communications, human resources, finance and supply chain. About two-thirds of those workers are in Fort Worth, said Lockheed spokesman Ken Ross. Lockheed Martin employs about 14,200 in west Fort Worth.

Ross said the job cuts will not affect plans to ramp-up production of the F-35 fighter jet, which is expected to require as many as 1,000 additional assembly line workers. Hiring for those positions has not yet begun, he said, but there is no hiring freeze associated with the job reduction program.

In a statement, Lockheed said job reductions are necessary “to position Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to be competitive in the future marketplace, secure future business opportunities, and keep an infrastructure appropriately aligned with customer demands.”

The separation offer includes two weeks of pay, plus one week for every year of service at Lockheed, Ross said. Eligibility is based on salary level, not seniority. Interested workers are being asked to apply by the end of the month, and departing employees will be scheduled to leave the company in either May, August or November.

The voluntary reductions come as Lockheed Martin is in the midst of a $1.2 billion reworking and expansion of its mile-long assembly plant in west Fort Worth to handle increased production of the F-35. After years of lower-rate production as the company worked through technical problems, Lockheed expects to produce 53 F-35s this year, up from 45 last year, then about 60 in 2017 and as many as 100 in 2018.

Lockheed is building the F-35 in partnership with eight other countries— Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. Increased production is expected to reduce the cost per plane.

Aeronautics is the largest division within Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, and the F-35 is critical to its future. In 2015, the aeronautics division generated $15.57 billion in sales, or about a third of the corporation’s revenue, and had operating profit of $1.68 billion.

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko