Defense contractor Raytheon Co. announced Chief Executive William H. Swanson will step down in March and will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Thomas A. Kennedy.
Swanson, who turns 65 in February, has served as the company's CEO since 2003. He will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors until the company completes the transition process.
Kennedy, 58, has served as executive vice president and COO of Raytheon since last April and oversaw the consolidation of Raytheon's six business units to four. The consolidation would result in annual savings of about $85 million, the company said.
Under that plan, Raytheon's space and airborne systems unit headquarters was moved from El Segundo to McKinney, Texas. El Segundo officials said the move would result in the loss of 170 jobs at Raytheon.
The Waltham, Mass. company has about 10,000 workers in California. At its sprawling electronics facility in El Segundo, scientists and engineers in underground clean rooms develop high-tech radars, sensors and cameras.
Raytheon is best known for making the Tomahawk cruise missile, but the space and airborne systems unit is involved in virtually every aspect of major defense programs.
The unit manages programs such as electronic-radar-jamming equipment for fighter jets, electro-optic sensors for spy planes, guidance systems for missiles and radar for missile defense.
Kennedy has spent more than 30 years at Raytheon, serving in various roles, including vice president of the space and airborne systems unit. He led new business and program activities for several radar and electronic warfare system development programs.
He is a former captain in the U.S. Air Force and holds a doctorate in engineering from UCLA.
"Tom Kennedy is a proven leader with a broad understanding of key technologies, keen customer focus, and a deep understanding of Raytheon's business," Adm. Vern Clark, lead director of Raytheon, said in a statement.
When Swanson steps down, it will mark the end of an accomplished career with the company that began in 1972. He held a wide range of leadership positions, including senior vice president and general manager of the missile systems division, general manager of electronic systems, and president of electronic systems.
During Swanson's tenure as CEO, Raytheon made key acquisitions in technology and robotics research areas. It has also grown into a major arms exporter.
In 2012, Raytheon had sales of $24 billion and 68,000 employees worldwide.
"Under Bill's leadership as CEO these past 10 years, Raytheon has become a customer-focused leader in the aerospace and defense industry," Clark said. "The company has achieved a strong balance sheet, disciplined program execution, close alignment with customer interests, leadership in global defense markets."
Raytheon is the third major U.S. aerospace company to name a new chief executive this month. Last week, Airbus and BAE Systems named new heads of their U.S. business units.
Raytheon shares rose 2 cents, or 0.02%, to $91.16 on Wednesday.