This is the first time since BAe was formed 21 years ago that the chairman has been drawn from the echelons of the company's senior executive. Bob Bauman retires as chairman at the annual meeting this month.
John Weston, who runs BAe's defence companies, will replace Sir Dick as chief executive while Richard Lapthorne will move from being finance director to vice-chairman, concentrating on group strategy.
Mr Lapthorne, one of the triumvirate of executives credited with the turnaround in BAe's fortunes in the past four years, is replaced by George Rose, who runs the companies' finance and treasury operations.
Mike Turner, the other senior executive member of the BAe board, remains director in charge of civil aircraft operations where his current task is to help oversee the transformation of the Airbus consortium into a single commercial entity.
Sir Dick is expected to concentrate on pushing through the merger of BAe, Daimler Benz Aerospace, Aerospatiale of France and CASA of Spain into a single European aerospace and defence company.
Outlook, page 25