By Roxana Tiron - 01/04/10 09:40 PM EST
Northrop Grumman Corp. on Monday announced it will move its headquarters from Los Angeles to the capital region by mid-2011.
The defense company looks to “better serve our nation and customers,” said Wes Bush, who recently took over as the new CEO and president.
The relocation decision comes as defense companies prepare for tough competition to win Pentagon dollars over the coming years.
Northrop is still searching for a specific location for its headquarters in the Washington area, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The search will be completed by this spring and the new corporate office will open by summer 2011, the company said in a release.
The defense giant, however, is not giving up its roots and the congressional support that comes from doing business in the various California districts.
Approximately 30,000 employees, a quarter of Northrop's worldwide workforce, are in California. Its Aerospace Systems sector is headquartered in Redondo Beach, and the company has other major facilities in the state.
The new Washington-area corporate office is expected to include about 300 people.
The announcement comes as Northrop has to decide within the next few weeks whether it will compete against Boeing for a $40 billion Air Force midair refueling tanker contract.
Northrop, partnered with EADS North America, won the tanker contract last year, but Boeing successfully protested the decision with the Government Accountability Office. Now the two defense giants face a rematch for the lucrative contract.
In December, Northrop threatened it would pull out of the competition. Company officials argued the bidding process was stacked against it and said that without changes to the selection criteria, it could not submit an offer.