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Northrop Grumman CEO will step down

Northrop Grumman announced Thursday evening, July 12, that Wes Bush, its chief executive, was stepping down and would be replaced by Kathy Warden, the company's president and chief operating officer effective Jan. 1, 2019.

"I am delighted that Kathy will become our company's next CEO," said Bush, who would remain chairman through 2018. "She has demonstrated exceptional leadership in her roles leading the operations of our company, and she brings the vision and values to lead Northrop Grumman into the future."

Bush had been CEO of Northrop, the Falls Church, Virginia-based defense contractor, since 2010.

The company did not say why he decided to step down.

"Wes has long been clear that change is an important dynamic in our company. He has served in the roles of CEO or president for about 12 years. This is the right time to make this change," said Tim Paynter, a spokesman.

The move comes just days after reports surfaced that the company employed a member of a white supremacist organization who participated in a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. The employee, identified as Michael Miselis by ProPublica and "Frontline," no longer is employed by the company. But Northrop was slow to respond to the allegations, and the news organizations also reported that he had remained employed even after his superiors had been informed of his actions.

In an email to company employees, Bush said that Northrop "would take the appropriate actions to make sure that our foundation remains strong well into the future."

The company faced another public embarrassment last month when NASA announced that it will again have to delay the launch of its James Webb Space telescope until March 2021, as the cost soared an additional $800 million to $9.66 billion.

This article was written by Christian Davenport, a reporter for The Washington Post.