Defence giant BAE Systems has confirmed 2,942 job cuts at its plants across the UK after days of speculation.
The job losses will mainly hit the company's military aircraft division at sites in Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, and Brough in Yorkshire.
Reports suggest that the cuts are the result of softer than expected demand for the Eurofighter jet, a joint venture in which BAE owns a 33 per cent stake. The company has also seen sales slow for its Typhoon jet as countries make cuts to defence budgets.
A BAE spokesman told the Telegraph: "In order to bridge the gap between current demand and future anticipated export contracts the production rate on the current Typhoon programme for the partner nations will be slowed.
"BAE Systems recognises that the long-term future of Typhoon is based on its export potential and therefore we need to ensure we are in the best possible position to secure those opportunities. Extending the production programme will help us achieve this."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“This news from BAE Systems will be a serious knock to the individuals and communities affected. My officials and the BIS local teams are already in touch with the company, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to make sure that everything possible is done to help those affected at Brough, Warton, Samlesbury and other sites.
"Last year I set up the Skills and Jobs Retention Group, chaired by Allan Cook, to help skilled workers find new jobs in UK manufacturing. The Group will ensure that the shortage of engineers in UK manufacturing is not exacerbated by the loss of talented people from companies like BAE Systems."
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, said said the news was "devastating" and called for ministers to respond quickly with a "clear plan of action".
Unions said that it was a "dark day" for British manufacturing and added that it hoped the Ministry of Defence would intervene.
Unite national officer, Ian Waddell said: "BAE Systems have dealt a hammer blow to the UK defence industry and Unite is determined to fight the cuts.
"Last year the UK defence industry generated over £9 billion of revenue from exports alone. Britain cannot afford to risk the future of this highly skilled industry. The government's defence review has led to deep cuts in defence spending and significant job losses, meaning it will be difficult to redeploy the jobs now at risk."