Boeing will shutter defence services facilities in Washington state and move 2,000 jobs elsewhere in the United States, the company announced on 29 September.

The move is “part of efforts to improve the competitiveness of its Boeing Defense, Space & Security unit,” the company says.

Services and support facilities for Boeing airborne warning and control systems (AWACS), airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) and the F-22 Raptor - which Boeing built along with Lockheed Martin - will be relocated mainly to existing facilities in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and St. Louis, Missouri, “where similar activities are performed today,” the company says.

“The decision to consolidate these activities was difficult because it affects our employees, their families and their communities,” says Chris Chadwick, Boeing Defense, Space & Security president and chief executive officer. “However, this is necessary if we are going to differentiate ourselves from competitors and stay ahead of a rapidly changing global defence environment.”

Other operations will move to facilities in Jacksonville, Florida and Patuxent River, Maryland. The transition is scheduled to take three years and will affect about 2,000 employees.

About 900 of those jobs will move to Oklahoma City and another 500 will shift to St. Louis. Employees who do not relocate or whose jobs are eliminated by the consolidation will be provided resources including job search assistance, “retirement seminars and career counseling," the company says.

“To the greatest degree feasible, the company will leverage Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ presence in Puget Sound to mitigate the impact of this decision on individual employees,” the company says.

Boeing already builds several defence aircraft at its Puget Sound facility, including the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and the KC-46 tanker, which are militarised versions of 737 and 767 commercial jets. Each is built in line with its commercial derivative at the facility. Boeing says its defence business already employs about 5,200 people in the Puget Sound region.

“Consolidating this work will allow the business to more efficiently use the resources and capabilities across the company,” says Jim O’Neill, president of Global Services and Support for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “Our goal is to minimise disruption to program execution by making the necessary changes in an orderly transition.”