General Dynamics' Johnson to step down as chairman and CEO

Phebe Novakovic slated to replace former chief of Naval Operations and fighter pilot as General Dynamics' leader.

General Dynamics Corp., of Falls Church, Va., ranks  on Washington Technology’s  of the largest federal government contractors.

Jay Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of General Dynamics Corp., will retire on Dec. 31, the company has announced.

He will be replaced by Phebe Novakovic, who became president and chief operating officer last month. Prior to that, she had served as executive vice president of the Marine Systems group of General Dynamics, and senior vice president for planning and development.

Johnson, who turned 66 this week, said in a statement released June 6: “When I accepted the board’s invitation to become CEO of General Dynamics, my objectives were to extend the corporation’s history of excellent performance, enhance the relevance of the products and services we deliver to our customers and continue the development of a strong group of well-qualified executives who would be ready to lead the company into a new era.

“I have met those objectives – the company is on an excellent financial footing, our operational performance is unmatched and our leadership team is very robust. This is the right time to transition,” Johnson said.

Among the most significant achievements during Johnson’s tenure was the design and delivery of the revolutionary double-V hull Stryker combat vehicle for the Army.

Johnson, the former chief of Naval Operations and a Navy fighter pilot, also oversaw the start of two-per-year production of Virginia-class attack submarines, and the final development of two new aircraft for the Gulfstream family of business jets, both of which are scheduled to enter service this year.

“Jay has provided strong leadership, guidance and service to our board, the corporation, its shareholders and the country. We are most grateful to him,” said James Crown, lead director on the corporation’s board.

Novakovic “is a strong leader who has great depth of knowledge about General Dynamics’ products, services, processes and customers,” Crown added.

Johnson became the second CEO to announce his retirement Wednesday. CACI President and CEO Paul Cofoni also reported his intention to retire toward the end of the year.

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