Lockheed's aeronautics unit to cut jobs

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin's <LMT.N> aeronautics unit said on Thursday that it plans to cut about 1,500 jobs to reduce costs.

The aeronautics unit, which produces the F-16 multi-role fighter jet, C-130 military transport aircraft as well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, said some salaried workers would be offered voluntary layoffs to minimize the number of involuntary layoffs that would occur.

Those eligible for voluntary layoffs would be informed in August, and an involuntary reduction would begin in mid-September, with the greatest impact from the cuts likely to be on workers in higher-level labor grades, Lockheed said.

The world's biggest defense contractor has about 28,000 employees at aeronautics unit sites in Texas, Georgia and California and at six smaller U.S. locations. The job reductions will likely have the greatest impact at larger sites, the company said.

"Bold and responsible action is necessary to meet customer expectations and reduce our costs," Ralph Heath, executive vice president for the aeronautics division, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Lockheed's space systems unit said it planned to cut about 1,200 jobs out of that division's total U.S. workforce of about 16,000 by year's end.

Lockheed overall has about 126,000 workers worldwide.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Gary Hill)