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BAE, Airbus Tap New U.S. Executives

European defense giants BAE Systems Plc and Airbus SAS have announced new chief executive officers for their U.S. businesses.

Jerry DeMuro will succeed Linda Hudson as president and CEO of BAE Systems Inc. effective Feb. 1, the U.S. subsidiary of the London-based company announced Tuesday.

DeMuro was a longtime acquisition official in the Defense Department and most recently was corporate vice president of General Dynamics Corp.'s Information Systems and Technology group, according to a press release. He will report to Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Homeland Security Department who is now chairman of the board for BAE Systems, Inc., and to Ian King, the parent company's CEO.

"I am pleased to leave the organization in such capable hands," Hudson wrote of DeMuro on a blog post.

When she took the job in 2009, Hudson became the first woman to take the helm of a major U.S. defense contractor. She announced her plans to retire in August, but will stay with the company as an adviser until late May and will remain on the company's board until 2015.

Her message to industry: Don't become a dinosaur, according to a tweet on the company's Twitter account.

"After many decades in this industry I have been through good times and bad, seen spending go up and down, but the very best people and companies adapt, endure and continue to move forward to meet the needs of our customers," Hudson wrote in the blog post.

BAE makes combat vehicles such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and electronic warfare systems for such aircraft as the F-35 fighter jet, among other weapons, and is challenging Lockheed Martin Corp. to compete for F-16 upgrades abroad.

Airbus, meanwhile, is also making moves in the executive suite.

The Leiden, Netherlands-based company, formerly known as European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V., tapped Allan McArtor to succeed Sean O'Keefe as chairman and CEO of Airbus Group Inc., its North American unit, according to a release.

O'Keefe, the former NASA administrator, stepped down to deal with medical issues stemming from a 2010 plane crash, it stated. Five of the nine passengers and crew died in the accident near Aleknagik, including former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. The cause of the crash, which involved a DHC-3T Turbo-Otter seaplane, remains unknown.

O'Keefe, who led the firm's unsuccessful bid to build the Air Force's new refueling tanker, plans to stay with the company to help oversee its security agreement with the Pentagon under the new corporate structure.

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