BAE Systems has moved to reassure employees after claims that up to 450 management jobs could be axed.

A spokesman for the defence and aerospace company acknowledged ‘there is a review ongoing’, but said the rumoured numbers were ‘simply speculation’.

He added: “We are talking to our employees first, but no numbers have been decided or announced. At the moment we are having conversations with 2,000 workers in executive roles.”

Last month the company, which employs about 11,000 staff at sites in Samlesbury and Warton, said its profits had been hit by a rise in the value of the pound, as well as lower demand due to military cuts by the US and UK governments.

Its underlying profit fell nearly eight per cent to £802m, as sales fell 10 per cent to £7.6bn.

Phil Entwistle, convener for the Unite union at BAE, said the union would not be involved if there were cuts to management posts, as that section of the workforce was not unionised.

The firm said in a statement: “BAE Systems continually reviews its operations to ensure we are running as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“The business faces a number of challenges and, with an extremely competitive global defence market, affordability is becoming an increasingly key element of securing business.

“To achieve a profitable and sustainable long-term business, success in the market is essential and we need to ensure we are in the best possible position to secure those opportunities.

“As always, should any issues arise that directly affect our employees then our policy is to communicate with our employees first through the normal channels.”