Raytheon’s Air Show Agenda: Meetings With 1,800

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Just four months into his new job as CEO of Raytheon, Tom Kennedy is finding plenty to do at the Farnborough Airshow. The U.S.-based defense electronics giant will host delegations – i.e. customers and prospective buyers – from more than 40 countries this week totaling more than 1,800 people. Kennedy, who succeeded longtime Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson in March, says this will be the company’s busiest air show ever, eclipsing last year’s Paris event and the Farnborough show two years ago.

International sales are projected to account for 30% of Raytheon’s revenues this year, up from 27% in 2013. Kennedy tells Aviation Week the company’s expertise in fields such as electronic warfare, air and missile defense and secure communications should enable it to continue to boost such sales. “In the last three weeks I was in the Middle East twice visiting multiple countries,” he says.

Those markets are helping offset declines in U.S. defense budgets. But Kennedy, who joined Raytheon 31 years ago as an engineer working on radar programs, says the recent turmoil in Ukraine and Iraq have not bolstered political support for Pentagon funding. “We’re not seeing a groundswell to increase the defense budget,” he says. “Not yet. That may change.”

Editor's note: Kennedy misspoke and this comment has been corrected to clairify what he meant to say. 

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