BUSINESS
10/13/2011 03:29 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2011

Northrop pulls out of Farnborough air show

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Northrop Grumman Corp <NOC.N> on Thursday pulled out of the 2012 international air show in Farnborough, England, a dramatic move underscoring the company's drive to cut costs as it prepares for leaner times in the global defense market.

Northrop has participated in the air shows -- which alternate between Paris and Farnborough -- each year since it merged with Grumman in 1994, said spokesman Randy Belote.

Belote said the company had already been reducing its footprint at the international air shows in recent years, but pulling out completely would save millions of dollars.

He said it did not diminish the company's commitment to Britain or other international customers.

Virginia-based defense consultant Loren Thompson said it would be the first time in decades that the company -- one of the five largest U.S. defense contractors -- was not present at the big international showcase of commercial and military aircraft.

"This is just the latest indication of how determined Chairman Wes Bush is to cut costs," Thompson told Reuters. "They're going to break the model in terms of what is expected in terms of industry leaders."

Bush has realigned the company around four business areas focused on cybersecurity, logistics, communications and intelligence, and unmanned systems, and recently spun off the company's shipbuilding business.

Belote said Northrop was reevaluating its participation in other international air shows as well, but was only prepared to announce its decision about Farnborough at this point.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa, editing by Dave Zimmerman)