WASHINGTON — Exelis has agreed to be acquired by Harris Corp. in a merger valued at $4.75 billion, a deal that would combine two mid-tier defense firms.

The boards of the two companies approved the deal, expected to close in June, according to a news release Friday morning.

Under the terms of the deal, Harris will acquire Exelis in a cash and stock transaction valued at $23.75 per share. Harris shareholders will own 85 percent of the combined company, and Exelis shareholders will own 15 percent. Exelis shareholders will receive roughly $17 in cash and 10 percent of a share of Harris common stock for each share of Exelis common stock.

The firm will be an $8 billion tech company with 23,000 employees, including 9,000 engineers/scientists.

William Brown, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Harris, said the new entity would be "competitively stronger ... with significantly greater scale."

"We are expanding in a market where we have decades of success and a workforce dedicated to providing our customers with innovative and cost-effective solutions for some of their most complex challenges," Brown said.

Exelis Inc.

Photo Credit: Exelis Inc.

Exelis, itself a 2011 spinoff from ITT, in 2013 spun off its military and government services business focused on facilities management, logistics and network communications. The new, leaner Exelis focused on surveillance and intelligence solutions, and was billed as representing $3.4 billion in revenue.

The companies last year were two of four firms to land a $988 million Army contract to provide radio appliqués capable of running the Army's Soldier Radio Waveform.

The merger comes years into a new paradigm for Army procurement, with the advent of the service's network integration exercises, aimed at testing ready technologies to modernize its tactical communications network in an affordable way.

In that spirit, the Army released the final version of its request for proposals for the Rifleman Radio last month, aimed at creating a "radio marketplace" for multiple vendors to compete to fill delivery orders as needed.

Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.

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