Los Angeles-based defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp said on Thursday that its board has named finance chief Wesley Bush as the company's president, putting him in line to potentially succeed Chief Executive Ronald Sugar one day.

In his new role, Bush, 45, will assist Sugar in overseeing the company's operations and play a key role in its future strategic development. Sugar, 57, who had been the company's president, kept that title when he was appointed CEO in 2003.

Bush's appointment is effective immediately, the company said, but he will continue as chief financial officer until a replacement is found. He joined Northrop Grumman in 2002 as part of the company's acquisition of TRW Inc., which he had been with since 1987.

The current responsibilities of Northrop Grumman's sector presidents and corporate staff officers remain unchanged, the company said.

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