Up to 166 jobs have been put at risk at BAE Systems' Barrow site.

Jobs at the Weapons Systems UK business in the Barrow site are at risk after the company began an 18-month consultation process.

Those at risk are primarily people working in the production facility for the M777 – a large artillery gun.

A BAE spokesperson said: “BAE Systems’ Weapon Systems UK business is proud of our long manufacturing record at the Barrow facility.

"However, a significant reduction in our production workload means that we do not consider it viable for us to maintain our artillery and naval guns manufacturing capability at this site into the future.

“We have therefore announced the start of a consultation process regarding the proposal of up to 166 potential job losses in the Weapon Systems UK business.

"We are confident that many of these potential job losses will be mitigated by the active recruitment of our submarines business in the local area.

“Should the proposal to cease manufacturing go ahead, our Weapon Systems UK business would continue to focus on supporting our land and naval customers through weapon engineering and design services, design authority, and refurbishment and sustainment management.”

Despite the potential job losses, the business was hopeful that the skills of those in the consultation process would remain within Barrow thanks to a huge recruitment drive by the submarines business – with the aim of recruiting 911 people this year.

A spokesperson added: “We are confident that we can cover for those who want to come across.”

Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell described the situation as ‘really sad’, but said that he was glad that there was ‘real hope’ that everyone affected would have the opportunity to join the submarine programme.

He said: “It’s really sad news but having spoken to BAE this morning I am glad that there is real hope that every single one of those people who are currently going through the consultation will have the opportunity to join the submarine programme, so there should be continuity for them on site to keep working in Barrow and the skills that they built up within the company.

“BAE have got to work with their staff and the unions to work through the nuts and bolts of the process but the fact is the submarine programme is expanding considerably so actually this gives the opportunity should people want to take it, the option to stay at work in BAE in Barrow and retain their skills."