Raytheon CEO Says ‘Speed Trumps Stealth’ in Hypersonic-Weapon Era

Raytheon merged with United Technologies to create a $123 billion aerospace and defense behemoth just as the pandemic was grounding flights. Chief Executive Officer Gregory Hayes thinks travel will never be the same.

How does the economic growth trajectory look to you over the next six to 12 months?
Great. We have two businesses: a commercial aerospace business which was just devastated last year, down 50%. And then we have a very, very big defense business. Both of those businesses are going to experience growth in the next 12 months, in the next two or three years.
What do you anticipate for business travel?
We’re starting to see it pick up. But certainly business travel is forever changed, because of Zoom. Our own view is you probably don’t see a full recovery in business travel until 2024, 2025. I hope we’re wrong.
The deal between Raytheon and United Technologies was enormous. What did you learn?
We had an aerospace and defense business at UTC, which was about $45 billion, merging with a $25 billion business focused primarily on defense. Interestingly, what we found was that the cultures weren’t all that different.
What technological breakthrough will have the biggest impact on the defense industry?
It could be hypersonic weapons. We’ve talked about stealth for the last 30 years, but speed trumps stealth when you’re talking about something that can go up to Mach 20, which is about 17,000 miles an hour. The ability to defend against hypersonics is the huge market.
What do you think of the billionaires going into space?
I think what they have done with the commercialization of space transport is phenomenal. Space tourism will be a niche market for a long time at $250,000 a ride, for maybe 10 or 15 years, which is about my planning horizon. Then I’ll be too old to worry about it.
Interviews are edited for clarity and length. Listen to Bloomberg Businessweek With Carol Massar and Tim Stenovec, weekdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Bloomberg Radio.
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