Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) announced today that CEO William Swanson will step down at the end of March. The defense giant's board has already selected Chief Operating Officer Thomas Kennedy to replace Swanson effective March 31.

Swanson has served as CEO since 2003. He will turn 65 next month, and informed the board of his intention to step down following his birthday. Swanson, who has been with Raytheon for more than 41 years, will continue in his capacity as chairman of the Raytheon board to facilitate a transition between himself and Kennedy. 

"Under Bill's leadership as CEO these past ten years, Raytheon has become a customer-focused leader in the aerospace and defense industry," former Navy Adm. Vern Clark, Raytheon's lead director, said in a press release. "The Company has achieved a strong balance sheet, disciplined program execution, close alignment with customer interests, leadership in global defense markets, and a reputation for sound governance and corporate responsibility."

Kennedy, 58, has been with Raytheon for the past 30 years, serving in various capacities. Most recently he led the consolidation of Raytheon's business lines from six to four as COO and executive vice president. He has also served as president of Raytheon's integrated defense systems business and as a vice president in the space and airborne systems business.

"Tom Kennedy is a proven leader with a broad understanding of key technologies, keen customer focus, and a deep understanding of Raytheon's business," said Clark. "Raytheon is well-positioned both domestically and internationally, and with Tom's experience, we are confident that he will lead our Company successfully in this dynamic global business environment."

Kennedy received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University, his master's from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in engineering from UCLA. He served as a captain in the Air Force prior to joining Raytheon.

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