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Lockheed to lay off 60, stop manufacturing at Middle River

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. said Thursday it will end manufacturing operations at its Middle River site by the end of next year, laying off 60.

The company said the site, which specializes in producing a missile launch system used on Navy ships, will employ 470 people after the cuts. Remaining employees work in program management, engineering, research and design.

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said production of the launch system at the Middle River site has continued to decline over the last five years while costs have risen. The company said work on future contracts will be done elsewhere.

Lockheed also announced Thursday that it will close its Minnesota plant that makes components for the P-3 surveillance plane by 2013.

Lockheed’s Mission Systems and Sensors unit will shift 650 jobs from Eagan, Minn., to Oswego, N.Y.; San Diego; and Manassas, Va., according to a statement. The company will also transfer work on ground vehicles from Owego to Dallas.

“The net result would be about 400 jobs eliminated,” Anne Marie Squeo, a spokeswoman for Lockheed, said. The number of job cuts may be higher if employees whose jobs are being transferred choose not to go, she said.

Closing the plants will save the company $150 million over the next 10 years, Orlando Carvalho, president of Lockheed’s Mission Systems and Sensors unit, said in the statement. In September, Lockheed said 25 percent of its executives, or more than 600 vice presidents and directors, accepted a voluntary retirement program designed to reduce costs.

The Minnesota plant makes avionics components for P-3 maritime surveillance planes, Squeo said. The layoffs will start in the first quarter of 2011 and continue for two years, according to the company.