BAE Systems is planning to axe more than 600 jobs and close its historic factory in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which made tanks for World War I.
The firm announced today that 330 jobs will be lost through the closure of the site at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is currently making Terrier vehicles for the Army.
Up to 280 further jobs will also be lost at three BAE sites in Radway Green, near Crewe, Washington in the North East and Glascoed in South Wales under the proposals, as well as the prospect of 10 job cuts at the firm's head office in Hampshire.
The factory has been a defence manufacturing site since 1847, building a number of ships and employing tens of thousands of workers in its heyday.
A business review concluded that there was no prospect of new UK armoured vehicle manufacturing work once production of the Terrier ends next year. BAE said its Newcastle site would close at the end of 2013.
Managing director Charlie Blakemore said:
We need to adapt to very challenging market conditions and further reduce our overheads to drive better value for our customers and increase our competitiveness in the export market.
I know that this is difficult news for employees and we will do all we can to help them through this difficult period and mitigate the proposed job losses wherever possible.
The firm said the proposals, now under consultation, followed major efficiency improvements and reductions in the amount of ammunitions required by the Ministry of Defence.
In response to BAE's proposed cuts, the shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the country is seeing defence industrial decline on the Government's watch.
Historic sites are closing, jobs are under threat and the defence industry is lacking support. Ministers must do more to demonstrate they have a long-term plan to stimulate and support the UK-based defence industry.
Rehana Azam, a national officer of the GMB union has described the cuts as "another blow to manufacturing." He continued: "Representations are being made to MPs to see what can be done to retain skills within BAE Systems and in traditional industrial areas of the UK."