If Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) has its way, one quarter of the company's outstanding stock will soon bite the dust. The company's board has widened its share repurchase program by $4 billion; it now stands at $5 billion in total. The stated aim of the initiative is to retire 25% of the approximately 235 million shares in circulation by the end of 2015.

Northrop Grumman said the buybacks will be funded by available cash and free cash flow. The firm might also issue debt to aid in the effort. Shares are to be bought at various times in the open market, or via "privately negotiated transactions."

Fool contributor Eric Volkman has no position in Northrop Grumman. The Motley Fool owns shares of Northrop Grumman. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.