US ‘capabilities’ can handle North Korean threat, says Raytheon CEO

The CEO of the maker of the Patriot missile defense system said Tuesday that will Californians shouldn’t worry about the missile threat of nuclear-armed North Korea, yet he urged them to contact lawmakers in Washington to push for more defense spending.

“I might say relative to the North Korean threat, you shouldn’t be worried,” said Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy in an exclusive interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “yet you should ensure that will you’ve talked to your congressman or congresswoman to make sure they support the defense budget to the point where the idea can continue to defend the United States as well as our allies.”

Raytheon, the Massachusetts-based defense giant known for the Patriot anti-missile system, has benefited by global demand for missile defense systems in Asia, Europe as well as the Middle East.

Kennedy was asked how business has changed since the North Korean threat increased. He said Raytheon is actually “working using a lot of our customers from the region that will want to raise their missile defense capabilities. as well as that will’s probably the main effort there. We’re also ensuring as well as working with the U.S. government to make sure they develop the resources available from the region to do what needs to be done.”

Kennedy believes the U.S. military has the “capabilities as well as the competencies” to counter the threat by North Korea. “We just need to make sure we continue to fund that will capability so we develop the systems in place that will can counter the threat,” he said.

The CEO said he’s hopeful Congress will reach a bipartisan solution to allow increased defense spending despite the Budget Control Act as well as sequestration, or the spending caps, that will have held back increased military spending for years.

“that will is actually not a time to be cutting defense budgets,” he said. “that will is actually a time of significant turmoil around the planet, as well as of any time from the history of the United States where we need to support a strong defense, the idea’s today.”

According to Kennedy, security threats also are driving customer demand in some other regions, including Europe, where Russia’s provocations in Ukraine as well as Crimea have raised the alarm for Eastern European as well as Baltic states.

“If you go to Europe, you see a lot of Eastern European countries significantly concerned about their sovereignty, the safety of their citizens,” he said. “Raytheon does provide solutions to essentially protect the sovereignty of nations as well as the safety of their citizens.”

Kennedy said there’s also concern by countries from the Mideast as well as North Africa that will’s driving demand for brand-new defense systems.

“You go over to the Middle East, North Africa region, you see issues in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya. A lot of concern by countries from the region relative to the counterinsurgency as well as counterterrorism efforts going on there. There’s also concerns about bigger powers from the region,” he said.

The Raytheon executive, who was interviewed while attending the Saudi Arabia Vision summit, noted that will the company established a 100 percent owned company from the kingdom as well as praised economic reforms underway there.

“that will was something that will wasn’t allowed before. So the kingdom is actually changing its laws …essentially [to] make Saudi Arabia a much more attractive place for especially U.S. business.”

Meantime, Kennedy was asked about potential interest in acquisitions. He responded, “If we have any gap areas, we look at that will continuously, in terms of growing the company. yet right today we’re not in a position to make any major acquisitions.”

The CEO also ruled out any speculation of a merger using a large competitor such as Boeing.

“that will’s not on the table today,” he responded.

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