Chris Calio, then-chief operating officer of Raytheon Technologies Corp., at the Raytheon stand on day two of the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, UK, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Calio is the new CEO of RTX. (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Longtime RTX leader Greg Hayes passed the reins of the world’s second largest defense contractor to Chris Calio today, as Hayes stepped down as chief executive officer and became the company’s executive chairman.

The long-awaited transition, announced in December, went into effect at the company’s annual shareholder meeting this morning.

Calio, formerly the company’s president and chief operations officer, steps into the role of chief executive at a critical juncture for RTX. He will lead the company’s continued efforts to boost weapons production — a vital concern of the company as munitions demand skyrockets due to the war in Ukraine — and while Pratt & Whitney wrestles with a material defect of its Geared Turbo Fan engines that could cost the company billions.

As COO, Calio oversaw the realignment of RTX into three business segments: Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace and a single Raytheon unit that combined the company’s weapons and space arms. In October the company announced it was setting its cybersecurity unit for $1.3 billion.

Calio has said RTX would further de-emphasize its space business, with the intent to compete for future satellite contracts as a component supplier instead of a prime contractor.

“When you look at our strengths in that portfolio, I think that pivot is the right one,” he said in an earnings call last week. “We’ve got historical strength in some of the some of the exquisite space areas. We’ve got some other strengths in some of the key components that go in to the prime satellites and buses.”

RTX booked $68.9 billion in sales in 2023, and is the second largest defense firm, following Lockheed Martin, when RTX’s commercial revenue is discounted, according a Defense News list of top defense companies.

During the annual shareholder meeting, Calio said that despite challenges on the GTF engine, RTX “has the best portfolio in aerospace and defense” and is “primed for growth with a record $202 billion backlog.”

Hayes, the 63-year-old former CEO, also was no stranger to corporate restructuring in his long career. He helmed the transformation of two of the largest defense companies, first as CEO of United Technologies Corp., where Hayes spun off non-core businesses like Otis Elevator Company and sold helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft to Lockheed Martin.

He then oversaw the merger of Raytheon and UTC in 2020, becoming chief executive of the company now known as RTX.

Hayes has been an outspoken voice among defense CEOs, particularly regarding the health of the defense industrial base and weapons transfers to Ukraine, touting the value of multi-year contracts as an antidote for the Pentagon’s uneven demand signal for munitions as well as the long timelines to put weapons under contract.

“If you think about this $30-some billion of the weapons that we’ve supplied to Ukraine, we’ve only got $2 billion of that under contract today,” Hayes told Defense One in June 2023.