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Raytheon Hiring Takes Flight Amid Boom in Defense Tech Contracting

Thanks to a shift in defense spending favoring high-tech surveillance and reconnaissance systems over heavy weaponry, defense contractor Raytheon Co.’s El Segundo division is on a hiring spree.


The Space and Airborne Systems division has already brought on 500 workers this year and is looking for another 700 before 2006 to fill high-paying, highly skilled positions. That includes about 650 engineers in software, sensor design, electronic engineering and financial and other support staff.


“Basically we’ve grown since the end of 2002 from $3 billion in sales to $4.2 billion in 2004,” said Kathy Cerulus-Ford, director of talent acquisition and development at the El Segundo division.


The hiring initiative comes as defense contractors nationwide are benefiting from increased government spending. Raytheon is particularly strong in sensors, a growth niche integral to intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance.


The situation is in sharp contrast to 2002, when the company lost a $273 million satellite contract and restructured with layoffs of more than 1,200 employees, including 115 in El Segundo.


Most of the Space and Airborne Systems’ 13,000 employees work in El Segundo, designing, manufacturing and assembling components for such programs as the unmanned Global Hawk aircraft.


“It’s basically the strongest area of defense spending,” said Philip Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at Fairfax, Va.-based Teal Group Corp. “That’s where defense companies have been making acquisitions. Most companies want to increase their positions in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”


Raytheon does face significant obstacles in recruiting the hundreds of engineers because many will be put to work on classified projects and need security clearances, which require background checks that can take up to 18 months.


The division also added three new high-level positions similar to account executives to provide better customer service to military customers.


“We’ve created new customer-oriented directors as the space sensor segment of our business grows,” said Jon Jones, vice president, department general manager of the El Segundo division. “It’s just part of the ebb and flow of our business.”

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