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Oshkosh to cut 900 jobs in defense unit

A view of the main entry way at the Oshkosh plant in Wisconsin October 12, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
A view of the main entry way at the Oshkosh plant in Wisconsin October 12, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

(Reuters) - Truck and military vehicle maker Oshkosh Corp said it will cut about 900 jobs in its defense business due to U.S. budget cuts.

About 200 full-time positions will be eliminated through July and about 700 hourly positions from mid June onwards. The defense unit will have 2,800 employees after the cuts.

The company maintained high levels of hiring at its defense business during the height of the recession, but "circumstances have now changed," said John Urias, Oshkosh's President of Defense.

The US Government implemented $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as the "sequester," starting on March 1 this year.

The company, which had earlier cautioned that the budget cuts and a wind down in war activities would impact volumes, said it expects a 30 percent fall in military vehicle production this summer.

Oshkosh also makes emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks and specialty trucks for construction, and has been trying to reduce its exposure to the defense market.

Defense sales, which account for about half of its total, fell 21 percent during the first quarter.

On the other hand, a recovering housing market has led to higher sales of its access equipment products such as aerial work platforms and boom lifts.

Shares of the Wisconsin-based company, which have risen almost 35 percent this year, closed at $39.17, down 0.6 percent, on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Tej Sapru in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)

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