On the eve of sequestration, there was still a lot of uncertainty at BAE Systems.

The West Manchester township location builds Army vehicles and could see military contracts dwindle as the Department of Defense is forced to cut spending.

Because to the 2011 Budget Control Act, a federal law that created spending caps and sequester, the DOD budget will lose $500 billion during the next 10 years.

The New Year's Eve fiscal cliff deal delayed the automatic spending cuts from Jan. 1 to Friday, when the beginning of the cuts will occur.

Though the sequester will reduce the size of the military, and the payroll of its civilian workforce, it's not immediately clear how it will affect business at BAE's local operations, according to spokesman Randy Coble.

Since 2000, BAE has been awarded more than $13 billion in defense contracts to make and refurbish military vehicles, according to federal records.

Jobs? The company first told The York Dispatch in September that the Budget Control Act could eliminate 10 percent of the company's U.S. workforce - or 4,000 jobs.

BAE employs 1, 250 people in York County. How many jobs could be lost at the manufacturer's York County site hasn't been determined, Coble said.

"It's impossible for us to tell how sequestration will impact our site until BAE Systems gets guidance from our military customers about how they are going to meet those steep budget cut targets. It's likely that those decisions will be made fairly soon, but there are no guarantees," he said.


BAE has long anticipated the budget pressures and spent much of the last two years restructuring its business to reduce costs, Coble said.

The company announced layoffs earlier this month, but they weren't related to the sequester, he said.

About 25 workers have already been laid off. Beginning in April or May, BAE will lay off another 150 workers -mostly union employees - because of decreased business demand, Coble said.

"There's been a decrease in defense spending since the country has started to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

Defense department leaders have trimmed $487 billion from its budget during the last couple of years as President Barack Obama has worked to end two wars.

Other concerns: Adding the sequester cuts on top of that will create a "doomsday" scenario for the DOD, according to former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

"It's a ship without sailors. It's a brigade without bullets. It's an air wing without enough pilots," he wrote in a letter to U.S. senators and representatives.

In Pennsylvania, it could mean a $155 million loss in payroll for the civilian workforce.

What that will mean for military operations in New Cumberland is unclear, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, said during his first town hall meeting on Monday.

"It's something we're all concerned about," he said.

A study commissioned by the Manufactuers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania identified 80,000 jobs in the region that could be lost as a result of the defense budget cuts. Most of those jobs are held by defense contractors, subcontractors and the military's civilian workforce, according to Mike Smeltzer, executive director of the association.

"Defense cuts will be deep here," he said.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.