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Boeing Defense Leadership Shifts: Logistics Leader Takes Over

Posted by Colin Clark on

Leanne Caret Boeing Defense Systems CEO (1)

AFA WINTER: Boeing Defense, fresh off its loss of the Long Range Strike Bomber contract, is getting new leadership.

Chris Chadwick, who led the $30 billion Boeing, Defense, Space and Security Division to its most profitable year ever, is retiring and will be replaced as president and CEO of BDS by Leanne Caret on March 1. Caret has worked at Boeing for 28 years and is moving from her perch as head of Boeing’s Global Services & Support business,

Why move Chadwick just as he’s lead his unit to new heights? Well, Chadwick is 55, compared to Caret’s 49, and he’s set things up well for a successor. This gives her a few years, presumably, to learn all the bits of the business and really take it to new heights.

Chris Chadwick Credit: Maryville University

Chris Chadwick Credit: Maryville University

But there’s also the intriguing possibility that Boeing’s board looked at what to do now that it has not got the billions in new money that would have gone with the LRSB award. The F-18 line, which seems to win perennial reprieves, may finally be on its last legs. So the BDS unit may well come to focus on upgrades to existing systems — think rotorcraft (which Caret ran for a while), fighters and pretty much everything else except space — and Caret’s experience would seem particularly well suited to that sort of business. That’s especially true in the era of budget caps.

Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who’s done work for Boeing, offered this analysis in his column for Forbes:

“The challenge Caret now faces is how to grow Boeing’s defense and space revenues at a time when demand for jetliners may be softening and Pentagon spending is capped by law. That’s a tall order, but the whole point of being in both commercial and military segments of the aerospace business is to leverage Boeing’s skills across diverse markets that do not all follow the same cycles.”

What do you think?