Another round of dramatic US defence budget cuts will be "devastating" to the arms industry and will force thousands of people out of their jobs, American corporate giant Boeing warned Friday.
Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said smaller companies from around the world which form part of the US firm's supply chain will also be affected.
Boeing's defence business has already seen its work force slashed by around 8,000 people to 61,000 over the past two years as a result of a $500 billion US defence budget cut currently being implemented.
However, there is also the potential for automatic defence spending cuts, called sequestration, totalling another $500 billion over 10 years from 2013 if the US Congress does not reach a deal on slashing the country's deficit.
"That's very significant. We believe that would have a devastating impact on industry," Muilenburg told reporters in Singapore on the eve of a security conference.
"We are strongly encouraging the US government to find a way to avoid that sequester scenario and avoid the impact that would have on jobs and industry."
Muilenburg said he could not confirm the number of jobs that could be shed in the event of such cuts, but it would be likely to run into the "thousands" in the US alone.
"We have thousands of suppliers in our global network that support our defence and commercial business and the ripple effect to second- and third-tier suppliers would be very significant," he added.
Boeing's defence business has so far managed to survive the effects of current cutbacks in defence spending in the US and Europe because of rising demand from militaries in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, he said.
Last year, 24 per cent of Boeing Defense's revenue came outside its US home market and this is expected to grow to 25-30 per cent over the longer term, he added.
Of Boeing Defense's revenue outside the US, about half comes from the Asia Pacific.
Boeing's other major business, making commercial planes, is faring better than its defence component.
Boeing said net income surged 58 per cent in the first quarter to $923 million from a year earlier as sales of commercial planes continued to grow despite the weak global economy.