DUESSELDORF Aug 29 (Reuters) - Germany's Rheinmetall plans to cut more than five hundred jobs at its battle tanks unit, as it restructures to increase profits at its defence business, a trade union official told Reuters on Wednesday.
Peter Seeger, IG Metall head in the northern city of Kiel, said more than 500 jobs at the production plants in Kiel and the central city of Kassel would be slashed.
The battle tanks business, which has annual sales of nearly 340 million euros ($427.26 million), employs around 1,300 staff.
It has manufacturing facilities in Kiel and Kassel as well as a plant in the southern city of Gersthofen, which Seeger said employed 50 staff and would be closed down.
A spokesman for the maker of defence equipment and automotive components, said job cuts were "inevitable", without giving any further details.
Seeger said the union planned to present an alternative plan to management.
In August, Rheinmetall announced a revamp of Rheinmetall Landsysteme (RLS), which makes battle tanks, mine clearing systems and howitzers.
Operating profit at Rheinmetall's defence division, which includes RLS, fell to 4 million euros from 38 million in the first three months of this year, partly on one-time effects and lower sales of its most profitable products. It does not publish figures for RLS. ($1 = 0.7958 euros) (Reporting By Anneli Palmen; Writing by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)