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Northrop Grumman to cut 200 jobs at two sites

Northrop offers voluntary buyouts to workers at its electronics division complexes in Woodland Hills and Salt Lake City amid efforts to cut the defense budget.

November 30, 2012|By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

Citing proposed cuts to Pentagon spending, aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. revealed plans to eliminate about 200 positions in Woodland Hills and Salt Lake City by March.

Northrop confirmed that it has offered a voluntary separation program open to all employees working at its electronics division complexes in the two cities. The Falls Church, Va., company said the move is in response to billions of dollars in proposed Pentagon budget cuts.

"This workforce reduction action is regrettable, but unavoidable," said Gina Piellusch, a Northrop spokeswoman. "These reductions — which are intended to reduce infrastructure costs and improve overall affordability — are in response to continuing economic uncertainties and defense budget cuts and are critical to continued business success in the increasingly competitive aerospace and defense industry."

About 1,300 people work at the Woodland Hills campus and are mainly focused on integrated avionics systems and advanced sensor technology, as well as electronics that provide location and direction for missiles, ships and land vehicles.

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Piellusch said the job cuts were "imperative."

"Should these voluntary efforts not fully address the staffing situation, we will initiate an involuntary reduction early next year to ensure our head count is consistent with our business base," she said.

This is the latest workforce reduction at Northrop's operations in Southern California. In September, Northrop confirmed it has accepted buyouts from about 590 employees in its aerospace division. Most of them were at sprawling complexes in Redondo Beach, El Segundo and Palmdale.

The Southland aerospace industry has been downsizing to reflect new budget realities in Washington, where Congress has tightened purse strings on the Pentagon. U.S. military spending — which grew by double digits after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — is now expected to decline by $487 billion over the next decade.

The prospect of additional cuts loom as Congress and President Obama deal with the federal budget "fiscal cliff." If no agreement is reached by year-end, a wide range of additional — and immediate — budget cuts, including big trims in defense spending, will go into effect.

This month, Boeing Co. said it was trimming its executive workforce 30% from 2010 levels. It also revealed plans to sell office buildings in Seal Beach and demolish one in Huntington Beach. It has already sold property in Anaheim.

Last year, Northrop moved its corporate offices — and 300 jobs — from Southern California to headquarters nearer to decision makers in Washington.

Still, the company has about 27,000 jobs in California and remains one of the state's largest private employers. Its engineers and technicians are primarily in the Southland, where they design and produce center fuselages for F/A-18 fighter jets in El Segundo and satellites in Redondo Beach.

The company also has a large operation in Palmdale, where it built the B-2 stealth bomber. That's where it now builds highflying spy drones and fuselages for the upcoming radar-evading F-35 fighter jets, which will be used by the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.

william.hennigan@latimes.com

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