By Calvin Biesecker

Lockheed Martin [LMT] yesterday said that its board of directors has elected Chris Kubasik, who is head of the company’s Electronic Systems business area, to be president and chief operating officer (COO) beginning Jan. 1, 2010, in charge of overseeing day-to-day operations at the nation’s top defense contractor.

Bob Stevens, 58, Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president and CEO, will be shifting his responsibilities somewhat to spend more time focusing on high level customer needs. He will also continue overseeing certain corporate staff functions.

Stevens said in a statement that “this new structure will enable me to devote greater attention to high-level customers and partners and to shape domestic and international business strategies. I also intend to increase my efforts to strengthen the corporation strategically, operationally and financially.”

Before taking over the Electronic Systems sector in 2007, which posted $11.6 billion in sales last year and is one of the corporation’s four business areas, Kubasik, 48, was Lockheed Martin’s chief financial officer beginning in 2001. The move to oversee the various businesses within Electronic Systems gave Kubasik experience and responsibility in day-to-day operational management.

The position of COO was eliminated in August 2004 when Stevens, who was then president and COO, became president and CEO. Stevens later was elected chairman. Lockheed Martin’s mandatory retirement age for elected officers is 65.

In the new scheme, Kubasik will oversee Lockheed Martin’s four business areas, Aeronautics, Electronic Systems, Information Systems and Global Services, and Space Systems. Additionally, the senior vice president of Operations and Program Management, chief information officer, and vice president of Enterprise Business Services will report to Kubasik.

“Re-establishing the position of president and COO, and electing Chris Kubasik to that role, will strengthen oversight of program performance across the corporation and take operational excellence to an even higher level as we support our customers in their global security missions,” Stevens said.

Lockheed Martin hasn’t named a successor to Kubasik at Electronic Systems, but Stevens said that there are “a number of strong internal candidates” and “there will be no gap in leadership.”

Kubasik joined the company in 1999 as controller.