Jonathan D. Salant (c) 2014, Bloomberg News
Thomas will be the new chief executive officer of Raytheon, the world’s largest missile maker, beginning March 31.
Kennedy, 58, succeeds William Swanson, who has been CEO of the Waltham, Mass.-based contractor for a decade, the company said Wednesday in a statement. Swanson is stepping down as CEO next month after reaching age 65 and will remain chairman of the board.
Raytheon, the No. 4 U.S. contractor, is scheduled to release fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 30, as investors watch for signs of continuing effects on defense contractors from automatic U.S. defense-budget cuts that were eased last month in a congressional budget agreement.
The company reported in October that its third-quarter profit fell 2.8 percent amid the cuts, known as sequestration, even as it raised its full-year earnings forecast because of increased sales internationally.
Kennedy, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Raytheon since April 2013, has been with the company for more than 30 years. He has served as president of the integrated defense systems unit and vice president of the space and airborne systems division. The Air Force veteran holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of California Los Angeles.
Raytheon’s lead director, Vern Clark, said that Kennedy is “a proven leader with a broad understanding of key technologies, keen customer focus, and a deep understanding of Raytheon’s business.”
Last month, Raytheon was one of seven companies named to share a contract valued at up to $4 billion for research and development to counter weapons of mass destruction. It’s the largest award handed out by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop scientific and technological solutions to the threat of attacks on the U.S. using WMDs.