(CNN) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. has announced a plan to cut 1,200 employees from its space-systems unit by the end of the year.
The planned staff reduction amounts to a 7.5% cut in the unit's 16,000-member work force, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The reduction will be achieved through a combination of voluntary and involuntary layoffs, it said.
"In today's economic environment, we have two choices: make painful decisions now or pay a greater price down the road," said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president of Lockheed space-systems unit.
"This is a difficult but necessary action to improve efficiencies and make our business more competitive going forward."
The company said that one-fourth of the cuts will come from middle management. The cuts from other levels and divisions of the company will be considerably smaller, according to the statement.
Under the staff reduction plan, most of the cuts will come from company offices in California, Pennsylvania and Colorado, according to the statement.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems is a division of the Lockheed Martin Corp. The corporation manufactures and operates a wide range of advanced-technology systems including communications satellites, missile defense systems and spacecraft.
Lockheed Martin reported sales of $45.8 billion from continuing operations in 2010, according to the statement.