I was sorry about the passing of L-3 Communications' (NYSE:LLL) CEO Frank Lanza. Though I never owned shares of L-3, I always liked listening to the conference calls, and I appreciated Lanza's candid views on the world as it pertained to his company.

Nevertheless, the world marches on, and with it go the concerns of what will happen to this significant player in the defense/security electronics and communications sector.

There had been some discussion in the past that one of L-3's drawbacks was the absence of a clear CEO succession plan. That might be understandable, or at least not surprising, in the sense that hard-charging and visionary CEOs like Lanza don't generally accept limitations (including their own mortality). Nevertheless, it is the board's responsibility to uphold the shareholders' best interests, and in this case I believe the board came up deficient.

As a result, there is all manner of speculation about what's going to happen to L-3. Seemingly everybody seems to think that Britain's BAE Systems (AMEX:BAE) would be a likely bidder. Other names like Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), and Honeywell (NYSE:HON) are also being bandied about.

Of course, there is another option -- L-3 might just continue on as before. No CEO is irreplaceable, and I'm sure the board of directors could find a suitable person, even if a caretaker has to be appointed for the short term.

Whatever proves to be the case, I'd strap in if I were an L-3 shareholder. The stock is certainly moving up now on the notion of a buyout (and the premium that would likely accompany such a move), but that won't likely come right away. And in the absence of a quick deal, what we have here is what Wall Street hates more than anything -- uncertainty.

If there isn't a quick move from a buyer (or an announcement from the board saying "we're for sale"), it wouldn't shock me to see the stock drift. Whether or not that creates a buying opportunity, I'm not completely certain. I've liked this business before, and I'm inclined to think that this was more than a one-man story. By the same token, Wall Street may move to a "show me" attitude, so buyers today might want to prepare themselves for an environment where the stock has to climb a wall of worry and doubt.

For more Foolish takes on defense:

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson but has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).