The former chief executive of Boeing’s defence business is joining Raytheon Technologies’ board of directors.

Raytheon, which operates missile and space units and owns engine maker Pratt & Whitney and aircraft systems manufacturer Collins Aerospace, said on 16 January its board of directors has elected Leanne Caret as a new member.

“Leanne Caret is one of the most accomplished leaders in our industry,” says Raytheon chief executive and board chairman Greg Hayes. “With a focus on rapid deployment of highly complex systems, she has driven development of groundbreaking technology solutions throughout her tenure.”

Caret oversaw Boeing’s defence business for six years as chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), and was the division’s chief financial officer before that role.

She retired from Boeing in 2022, replaced by current BDS head Ted Colbert, who substantially consolidated the defence division’s management structure later that year.

Caret’s tenure at BDS, which began in 2016, saw major contract wins for a business struggling to compete against rivals Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

She was named BDS chief executive shortly after Boeing lost to Northrop a contract to develop the US Air Force’s new long-range stealth bomber, now known as the B-21 Raider. Northrop unveiled that secretive aircraft for the first time in December.

Under Caret’s supervision, BDS reduced middle management and relocated its headquarters to the Washington DC area – a move broader Boeing later echoed when it shifted its corporate headquarters to that region.

BDS also secured contracts to develop the USAF’s T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer and the 747-8I-based VC-25B presidential aircraft to replace the current Air Force One.

However, those programmes have since been described by industry analysts as being “bought at a price”. Boeing used a low-cost bid strategy, submitting so-called “firm fixed-price” proposals that guaranteed prices and schedule. 

Several years on, the strategy has generated substantial losses for BDS, with Boeing having racked up billions in military programme charges.

Caret joins Raytheon at a time the firm’s defence business faces headwinds, despite billions in backlogged orders and surging military spending in Europe and North America.

During an October 2022 earnings call, company executives said sales of defence products declined across Raytheon’s sprawling portfolio of aerospace products, including engines, precision munitions and avionics.

The trend was not driven by a lack of demand, Hayes said, but rather production-related obstacles. “It’s about labour availability and some of the supply chain challenges,” he said.

However, Hayes and other US defence industry executives predicted those issues will subside and normalise in 2023.

“We saw stabilisation here in the third quarter in the supply chain,” Hayes noted in October.

As a primary producer of precision-guided munitions for Western militaries – particularly air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles – Raytheon stands to benefit from a push in Washington to substantially increase stocks of such weapons.

The firm will provide investors an update on the company’s performance in the final quarter of 2022 during an earnings call on 24 January.