BAE's new leader foresees even better times ahead

New management sets sights on cybersecurity market

BAE Systems Inc. gained new leadership in January, when Linda Hudson, Land and Armaments Operating Group president, was elevated to company president and chief executive officer, succeeding retired Marine Corps Gen. Tony Zinni. At the same time, she was named chief operating officer of its British parent company, BAE Systems plc.

Hudson, who recently reorganized her leadership team by creating four senior vice presidents, inherited a company that racked up $2 billion in federal prime contracts in 2009, good enough for No. 15 in the 2010 Top 100 ratings.

"There is a lot of excitement. Linda is a technology-focused person," said D. Michael Bennett, whom Hudson named senior vice president of information management.

As BAE's chief information officer, Bennett is responsible for security and execution of information technology policy.

"She has got us all very excited about where we're going and the kinds of things we're doing," he said. Under her leadership, BAE Systems is "moving very, very strongly to grow in the technology areas."

BAE Systems scored several major contract wins in 2009.

Bennett cited the five-year Distributed Common Ground System award from the Navy valued at $72 million.

BAE is assisting the Navy in developing its ground communications systems by providing IT and engineering services to the ground stations that manage ship-to-shore communications.

The dollar value is relatively low, he said. But "the kind of things that it allows us to do we think will end up being a springboard to more and more work in that area," he said.

Bennett also singled out the $233 million command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) contract from the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in Charleston, S.C., where BAE Systems has a new facility.

The contract is expected to add 150 to 175 new jobs to the 400 employees at the BAE site.

"We're looking at Charleston as a real strong market for us in the technology area," Bennett said. "They've got some cyber [indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts] coming out over the next couple of months that we're very interested in as well."

Other contracts included a $325 million award from the Treasury Department for managed IT services, a successor to the Treasury Seat Management contract, which BAE Systems held for 10 years.

The award renewal was protested twice, and BAE Systems prevailed both times. "We're really just getting out of that protest process so the [work] is relatively new," Bennett said.

BAE Systems also was named to the General Services Administration's $50 billion IDIQ Alliant contract, which allows the company to bid on federal infrastructure, applications and IT management services awards.

The new leadership at BAE Systems is making significant investments in the government cybersecurity market.

"That's a growth market that everybody else is looking at but we're doing some things that other companies aren't doing," Bennett said.

As an example, he cited the company's new unclassified cyber solutions center in Columbia, Md., and the classified center now under construction in Annapolis Junction, Md. Eventually, BAE Systems will bring the two under one roof in Annapolis Junction.

The government cybersecurity market is in its infancy, Bennett said. But "we don't believe there's going to be any IT infrastructure programs going forward that won't have a significant cybersecurity or IT security component to it. So the stronger we are in that particular technology area, the more likely we are to have additional opportunities to provide IT infrastructure and other programs."

Bennett also cited readiness and sustainment as another growth market for BAE.

BAE Systems' parent company won a five-year readiness and sustainment contract last month worth about $200 million to provide avionic equipment repair support for the air forces of Britain, Germany and Spain.

"With our background and portfolio in providing platforms and also our ability in technology, we're going to be able to grow in the readiness and sustainment area, too," Bennett said. "Lots of platforms out there will need to be upgraded."

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