Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson is to step down on 15 June, with board member James Taiclet elected to take her place.

Hewson has served as the company’s chief executive officer and president since 2013, taking on the role of chair role as well in 2014. Upon stepping down in June, Hewson will become executive chairman of the Lockheed Martin board.

Taiclet, who replaces Hewson, joined the company’s board in 2018 and has served as president and CEO of American Tower Corporation. Taiclet has extensive experience in the aerospace sector previously holding positions at Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney which manufactures the engine for the F-35 fighter jet.

Hewson said: “I know it is the right time to transition the leadership of Lockheed Martin. The corporation is strong, as evidenced by our outstanding financial results last year and a record backlog of business. We have a bright future – particularly with Jim and our outstanding leadership team at the helm.

“I’m pleased the board agreed with my recommendation. As Lockheed Martin’s next CEO, Jim will lead the company forward in its next phase of growth and value creation.”

Taiclet said: “I’m honoured to be asked to succeed one of the most respected CEOs in America. While serving on Lockheed Martin’s board, I’ve not only been impressed by the company’s continued growth as a leader in aerospace and defence but also by the dedication and commitment of Marillyn and Lockheed Martin employees to deliver for its customers.

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By GlobalData

“As a military veteran, I understand the mission of this great company to provide global security and innovative solutions for the brave men and women who protect our freedom.”

The move was announced alongside other executive-level changes, with Frank A. St. John the current executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) business being elected to the position of chief operating officer, and Stephanie C. Hill senior vice president of Lockheed’s Enterprise Business Transformation unit taking his place.

Lockheed Martin’s COO oversees all four of the company’s businesses – Aeronautics, Rotary and Mission Systems, Space and Missiles and Fire Control – totalling almost $60bn in sales.

Commenting on the moves Lockheed Martin’s lead director Dan Akerson said: “Marillyn and the board have been focused on developing talent and ensuring a high-quality succession plan.

“On behalf of the board and our shareholders, we would like to thank Marillyn for demonstrating a strong commitment to the customer, shaping the company’s portfolio to meet the challenges of today’s global security environment and growing the business and driving long-term sustainable growth.”

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest defence contractor with arms sales making up 88% of the company’s business.