Ford Motor Co. announced yesterday that Loral Corp., a New York-based defense electronics firm, won the bidding for Ford Aerospace, the space and defense company that includes BDM International of Northern Virginia.

Wall Street analysts and defense industry executives predicted that Loral, which had sales of $1.2 billion last year, would have to break up Ford Aerospace and sell off BDM and other parts to swallow the larger company, which had sales of $1.9 billion.

But in an interview yesterday, Loral Chairman Bernard L. Schwartz said he "initially plans to operate the whole thing," and that it is "premature to think of divestiture." He said he has "a favorable attitude about keeping the whole operation."

Schwartz added that financing of the deal is not contingent on selling off parts of Ford Aerospace. Loral will purchase Ford Aerospace in an equal partnership with the merchant banking operations of the Shearson Lehman Hutton investment firm.

Although no purchase price was disclosed, Loral said it and Shearson each will contribute $150 million to the purchase, with the rest of the funds to be borrowed from banks; Loral will have the opportunity to raise its stake in Ford Aerospace beyond 50 percent in the future.

The combination of Loral and Ford Aerospace, which has large missile and space operations, will create a $3.3 billion company, the 19th-largest defense contractor in the country. Barring any major Justice Department objections to the takeover on antitrust grounds, Ford said the deal could be completed within the next three months.

Harold A. Poling, Ford chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement released by the company that "Loral's offer was the best financially and meets all of our requirements."

Sources close to the negotiations said there were three bids for Ford Aerospace, ranging from about $600 million to $800 million in cash plus the assumption of debts and obligations, bringing the value of the proposals up to about $1.2 billion

Schwartz said that "is not an accurate description" but declined to discuss the price or details of the agreement. Ford also declined to disclose the price.

Schwartz said that because of Ford Aerospace's size and its product lines, the purchase "constitutes a quantum advance for Loral." He said that Ford Aerospace's profitable space operations were a major attraction.

"All the Ford Aerospace operations have good {profit} margins," he said, although he declined to discuss the size of the company's profits.

Schwartz acknowledged that BDM, which sells to the Pentagon engineering and computer services, as opposed to weapons and other hardware, "doesn't exactly fit" into Loral's operations. But he quickly added, "The fact is, BDM is predominantly in the military business. We understand that business. ... I am not uncomfortable with BDM."

Schwartz said he did not anticipate any major changes in Ford Aerospace's operations and hoped to keep existing management.

The two losing bids were from groups of companies, each of which included a foreign partner. One group consisted of Hughes Aircraft Co., owned by General Motors Corp., the French telecommunications company Alcatel N.V. and Baltimore Orioles owner Eli Jacobs. The other group included Westinghouse Electric Corp., the French aerospace group Aerospatiale and the Carlyle Group, a Washington investment firm where former defense secretary Frank Carlucci is a partner.

Industry sources had speculated that Loral had an advantage because Philip Caldwell, a former chairman at Ford, is now a senior managing director at Shearson. Schwartz said he never spoke to Caldwell and was unaware of any efforts that Caldwell made on behalf of Loral.