General Dynamics promotes Novakovic to president

Falls Church-based contracting giant General Dynamics said Thursday that Phebe N. Novakovic has been named president and chief operating officer as of May 2, making her as one of the defense industry’s highest-ranking women.

Jay L. Johnson will remain the company’s chairman and chief executive.

The move positions Novakovic, 54, to eventually succeed Johnson, said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant.

“I would view this as the first step in a process that will eventually make Phebe Novakovic the most important female executive at a U.S.-based defense contractor,” said Thompson.

The move comes as other local contractors make changes to their leadership. McLean-based Science Applications International Corp. and Falls Church-based Computer Sciences Corp. both announced new chief executives last month, while Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin promoted its chief operating officer last year, potentially signaling its own succession plan.

Novakovic serves as executive vice president of General Dynamics’s marine systems group and previously was senior vice president for planning and development.

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