Ian Stopps, chief executive of the UK arm of US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, is to step down after nearly a decade in the cockpit. A source close to the company, which had global sales of $42bn (£23bn) in 2007, said that Mr Stopps is looking to retire "at Christmas or very early next year". No decision on a replacement has been made.
Mr Stopps has been chief executive since July 1999. This June, the UK division secured one of its most significant contracts to date, a £6bn deal to provide flying training to the British armed forces over 25 years. The contract was won with the VT Group, together known as Ascent.
Lockheed Martin employs 140,000 people worldwide and has more than 300 government and private sector partnership contracts in 30 countries. Its UK clients include London Underground and the Royal Mail.
A Lockheed spokesman said: "No announcements have been made about Mr Stopps's retirement from the company and no dates have been set.