In a surprise announcement, Boeing [BA] on Wednesday said that Chris Chadwick will retire soon from leading the company’s defense business and make way for Leanne Caret, who has been running a the services and support operations within the defense segment.

The leadership transition process will begin on March 1 and Chadwick, 55, will officially retire from the company in May, a Boeing spokesman told Defense Daily. The spokesman said that it was Chadwick’s decision to retire, adding that he has created a “solid foundation” for the $30 billion Defense, Space & Security segment. Chadwick has been with Boeing 34 years.

Incoming Boeing Defense, Space & Security CEO Leanne Caret. Photo: Boeing
Incoming Boeing Defense, Space & Security CEO Leanne Caret. Photo: Boeing

Caret, 49, has been with Boeing for 28 years and currently leads the Global Services & Support business, which does about $9 billion in annual sales. Caret has also led the company’s military rotorcraft programs previously.

“Leanne has a track record of delivering results, an intense customer focus, and the global acumen necessary to build on the existing strengths of our defense, space and security business and grow it for the future,” Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, president and CEO of Boeing, said in a statement. “She also is an experienced and inspirational leader who understands all aspects of our business, operates with a One Boeing perspective and has the trust and respect of our employees and our external stakeholders.”

Chadwick has led the defense segment since December 2013 and previously led its Military Aircraft business. Muilenburg thanked Chadwick for his “commitment to Boeing” adding that his efforts “during a challenging time in our markets has prepared us to move forward with confidence and improved competitiveness.”

Caret will become CEO of the Defense, Space & Security segment and executive vice president of Boeing.

Caret will be succeeded at GS&S by Ed Dolanski, 48, who is currently head of Boeing’s Aviall subsidiary, which supplies aviation parts and aftermarket supply chain management services to the aerospace and defense industries.