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BAE Systems to close Pennsylvania plant: BAE

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Britain's BAE Systems on Thursday said U.S. budget cuts were forcing it to close a small facility in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania, that has been upgrading and overhauling Bradley fighting vehicles and other ground vehicles for nearly 20 years.

The plant, which is located southeast of Pittsburgh and employs 113 workers, will be shut down by the end of 2013, the company said in a statement.

"The current business environment has made this difficult announcement necessary," Erwin Bieber, president of BAE Systems Land & Armaments sector, said in a statement.

The move reflects mounting U.S. budget pressures, the end of the war in Iraq, and the expected withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan next year.

BAE said it decided to close the facility given the completion of existing contracts at the site and the dearth of future work for the facility.

Production work should be completed at the facility by the end of November, with workers from the site to be let go or moved to another site by the end of December, BAE said.

Bieber said BAE was trying to avoid closing other facilities that do work related to the Bradley fighting vehicle, but the company saw a "significant risk of experiencing further cuts and impacts to jobs and communities across the country."

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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