US defence firm Northrop hires to bolster UK profile

Defence contractor Northrop Grumman has appointed a figurehead to bolster its profile among media and governments outside the US, with a focus on the UK.

Ken Beedle has joined the firm in the new role of corporate director of international comms. He arrives from KBR, the engineering and construction subsidiary of Haliburton that has secured a number of major rebuilding contracts in Iraq. Beedle spent 20 years at KBR, most recently as its comms manager for Europe and Africa.

Northrop Grumman is the world's third-largest defence contractor behind Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Based in London, Beedle's remit comprises Continental Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East, as well as the UK. ‘Northrop Grumman is a strong global name, but in the UK it is not very well known', Beedle said. He added that the company has ‘ambitious plans in the UK to grow its core defence sector business, but also to move into homeland security'.

It has already played a major role in the Home Office's national fingerprint database programme, IDENT1, and the public safety radio comms project to replace and operate the UK emergency services' radio communications.

The firm was also selected last year by the MoD to provide complete support for the RAF's fleet of E-3D Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.

Beedle said his task was to ‘promote the full range of what the company can do to media, government, potential clients, existing customers and employees'. It employs nearly 600 staff in the UK.

Northrop Grumman also provides air traffic control voice comms systems, defence electronics, marine navigation and IT systems.

Beedle reports to the company's vice-president of corporate and international comms Randy Belote, who is based in Washington.

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