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Black Hawk helicopter maker Sikorsky to eliminate 600 jobs, mostly in Conn.

STRATFORD, Conn. - The company that manufactures Black Hawk helicopters said Friday it is eliminating 600 jobs, most of them in Connecticut, as it struggles with cuts to U.S. defence spending and a reduction in the demand for the workhorse aircraft used by the military to strike targets and ferry troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cuts at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., the Stratford, Conn.-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., will take place over the next several weeks, spokesman Paul Jackson said.

"These decisions are always difficult to make but necessary to protect the company's competitiveness and future," Jackson said.

Sikorsky is feeling the impact of reduced military spending due to budget cuts and a scaled-back U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Last month, Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes said sales of the Black Hawk had fallen about 20 per cent year over year.

Revenue and profit at Sikorsky have fallen in each of the last two years. Revenue in 2013 was $6.25 billion, down 8 per cent from 2012 and off by 15 per cent from 2011. Profit last year was $594 million, down 17 per cent from 2012 and 29 per cent lower than in 2011.

The company has about 8,200 employees in Connecticut and 16,500 around the world.

Jackson said the cuts will be split between salaried and hourly positions. He said transition assistance will be provided to employees who lose jobs.

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