Aerospace heavyweights strike $7.8B deal

Image: Northrop Grumman ad
Northrop Grumman is known for stealth airplanes such as the B-2 bomber, the X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle and the B-21 long-range strike bomber. (Northrop Grumman Photo)

Northrop Grumman’s purchase of Orbital ATK for $7.8 billion will create a company involved in projects ranging from America’s next stealth bomber and ballistic missile system to the International Space Station and the James Webb Space Telescope.

The deal, previewed in news reports over the weekend and announced today, is part of a trend toward greater consolidation in the defense and aerospace industry.

Virginia-based Orbital ATK itself was part of that trend back in 2014, when it was formed through the merger of Orbital Sciences Corp. and Alliant Techsystems’ aerospace and defense groups. More recently, United Technologies announced its $30 billion acquisition of Rockwell Collins, including the combination of the companies’ aerospace operations to create a new business unit.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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