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BAE Systems names Michael Chertoff board chairman

Wednesday - 4/18/2012, 11:31am  ET

ARLINGTON, Va. - Defense contractor BAE Systems Inc. said Wednesday that former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff was elected as chairman of its board of directors, giving the company leadership insight from a key Washington insider as it tries to boost sales to the military.

Chertoff will begin his three-year term on May 1. He has been a member of the company's board since 2010. He replaces retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, whose term as chairman ends this month. Zinni became chairman in 2009.

Military contractors like BAE Systems are facing an increasingly tough business environment as lawmakers in Washington cut back spending. BAE Systems makes expensive military hardware like armored combat vehicles, Navy ships and satellite systems.

"As an existing board member, we have benefited from Secretary Chertoff's wise counsel and deep understanding of global security challenges," CEO Linda Hudson said in a statement.

BAE Systems Inc. is a U.S. division of London-based BAE Systems PLC. The U.S. branch sells arms to the government under the terms of a special security agreement.

Chertoff led the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to early 2009. In that role, he oversaw a sprawling organization that bought many of the same kinds of technology that BAE sells, such as electronic systems or intelligence gathering equipment.

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