David Melcher, who led defense civil government contractor Exelis Inc. after its spin-off from ITT Corp. [ITT] in 2011 until it was acquired by Harris Corp. [HRS] last month, has been named as the new chief of the Aerospace Industries Association, effective June 8.

Melcher succeeds Marion Blakey, who departed AIA earlier this year to become president and CEO of the North American business of Britain’s Rolls-Royce.

Incoming Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO David Melcher. Photo: AIA
Incoming Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO David Melcher. Photo: AIA

Melcher said in a statement that “Our nation currently faces a number of critical global challenges and we must have a strong, vibrant aerospace and defense industry to keep our men and women in uniform safe and successful on the battlefield, ensure that more than two million airline passengers travel safely and efficiently every day, and enable humankind to explore the frontiers of space.” He also stated that for the United States aerospace industry to maintain its leadership position, “we must invest in research and development necessary to discover innovative, lifesaving and cutting-edge technologies that equip our military and benefit all of society.”

After a 32-year career with the Army in which he retired as a Lieutenant General, Melcher then joined ITT Corp. as vice president of strategy and business development before becoming president of ITT Defense and Information Solutions, a position he held until leading Exelis.  His experiences in the Army and industry include program management, strategy development, and finance and he has worked with leadership in the Army, Defense Department, White House and Congress, AIA said.

“Dave is an exceptional leader who, with his balance of corporate and military experience, bring an outstanding record of executive achievement to AIA,” David Joyce, chairman of AIA and president and CEO of General Electric’s [GE] GE Aviation division, said in a statement.

Melcher will be president and CEO of AIA.