SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — HII’s mission technologies business, expanded through acquisitions like Alion Science and Technology as well as Camber, makes up about 25% of the contractor’s sales and will “outpace shipbuilding from a growth perspective,” according to HII’s chief executive.

Though known as a shipbuilder, HII, which includes Newport News Shipbuilding and Ingalls Shipbuilding, has sought to expand its portfolio. The company last year acquired Alion for $1.65 billion, adding more than 3,200 employees. In 2016, the company had picked up Camber, including 1,700 employees.

Alion was best known for its expertise in training and simulation, cyber technology, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, whereas Camber contributed capabilities including software engineering and intelligence analysis.

In an interview with Defense News on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum, which took place Dec. 2-3, Chris Kastner said the company is focused on getting out of debt. The top executive added that HII doesn’t see significant capability gaps for which it needs acquisitions to fill, but remains open to evaluating potential deals.

The McLean, Virginia-based mission technologies division includes six groups: C5ISR; cyber, electronic warfare and space; unmanned systems; live, virtual, constructive solutions; fleet sustainment; and nuclear and environmental services. While Kastner said this business will grow faster than the shipbuilding units, he doesn’t have a specific target for its size.

Meanwhile, he said inflation is going to make it “potentially a challenge getting new ships under contract.” The question will be whether there’s “enough funding to support the price,” he added.

He told Defense News the company is providing the U.S. Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense with data about increased costs, including for the workforce and parts.

“We’re trying to get in front of it,” he said. “It’s going to play out over the next three years.”

The problem of inflation, Kastner added, will weigh on both the company’s supply chain and lead times.

Marjorie Censer is the editor of Defense News. She was previously editor of Inside Defense. She has also worked as the defense editor at Politico, as well as a staff writer at the Washington Post, the Carroll County Times and the Princeton Packet.

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