NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Boeing's top defense official said the company has no interest in selling off the United Launch Alliance (ULA), despite a bid by Aerojet Rocketdyne to buy the company.
Chris Chadwick, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said ULA will be "a huge part of our portfolio going forward" and that there was "no serious consideration" given to the bid offer, reportedly for $2 billion.
"This bid, we've really not spent much time on it at all, because we're focusing in a totally different direction," he said.
A Lockheed spokesman declined to respond to Chadwick's comments, and an Aerojet representative did not respond by deadline.
Asked Wednesday about the industrial base for the space sector, Gen. John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, said it wasn't something he worried about. Ten years ago, commercial launches dried up to the point where Hyten was worried the industry wouldn't survive, he said.
He rattled off a list of companies active in the launch market: Blue Origin, SpaceX, Aerojet Rocketdyne, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed and Orbital ATK.
"We have a private investment coming into the launch business now. What private investment was coming into the launch business 10 years ago? It was zero. The only investment coming into the launch business 10 years ago was public investment," he said.
In a robust market, industry will determine the competitive landscape, he said.
"They're going to make decisions based on their business, whatever that business is. My job is, to work with that industry, however that industry resolves itself, to make sure we maintain assured access to space. And that's what I'm going to do," Hyten said.
ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, with profits split 50/50. The company has historically had a stranglehold on military launch for the Air Force, but is facing competition for the first time from the Elon Musk-backed SpaceX.
That competition has led some to wonder whether the two companies could sell ULA off.