WASHINGTON — Defense contractor Leidos said its board of directors selected Thomas Bell, president of Rolls-Royce’s defense unit and chairman and chief executive of Rolls-Royce North America, to be the U.S. company’s next CEO.

Bell takes up the post May 3, Leidos said in a statement Monday. He will succeed Roger Krone, who is retiring.

“Tom’s exceptional track record in harnessing the power of technology to drive growth and innovation, with his strong leadership skills and focus on understanding the needs of the customer, has resulted in a consistent record of success and value creation in both products and services,” Robert Shapard, lead director of Leidos’ board, said in a statement Monday. “His deep understanding of many of our customers will facilitate a smooth transition.”

After Krone’s retirement, Leidos plans to split up the two roles he once had. Leidos said its board expects to appoint Shapard to be an independent, nonexecutive chair after this stockholder meeting. Krone, who has led Leidos as CEO since 2014, will stay on as an adviser through July “to facilitate a seamless leadership transition,” the company said.

Shapard thanked Krone for his work guiding the company and praised him for its growth over the years.

“Roger Krone’s impact on Leidos and its customers will be felt for years to come,” Shapard said. “Under his leadership, Leidos has achieved tremendous growth, evolved its business strategy, and made a positive difference in the lives of countless people around the world.”

Bell previously was senior vice president of global sales and marketing for defense, space and security at Boeing, and before that was president of Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace.

Leidos was ranked the 19th largest defense firm in Defense News’ Top 100 rankings in 2022, with more than $8 billion in defense revenue in fiscal 2021. Its work includes information technology services, engineering, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine-learning technologies.

Leidos also acquired defense technology firm Dynetics in 2020, which now operates as a subsidiary of the bigger company working on technologies such as hypersonics, sensors and autonomous systems.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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