WASHINGTON — Aerojet parent company GenCorp. Inc. said July 23 that it has signed a definitive agreement to buy Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from United Technologies Corp. for $550 million.

GenCorp intends to finance the acquisition of the nation’s chief liquid-propulsion provider with a combination of cash on hand and issuance of debt, the Sacramento, Calif., company said in a press release.

United Technologies Corp. has been looking to sell Canoga Park, Calif.-based Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and other noncore businesses to help finance its purchase of Goodrich Corp.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne provides the main propulsion systems for the United Launch Alliance Atlas and Delta launch vehicles. The company also is under contract to provide the core engines for NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket currently under development. Aerojet’s main liquid propulsion product is the AJ-26, a converted Soviet-era engine it is supplying to Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp. for its Antares medium-lift rocket. Aerojet also provides many monpropellant and bipropellant systems for rockets, satellites and other spacecraft.  

GenCorp Chief Executive Scott Seymour said buying Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne would nearly double the size of GenCorp’s propulsion business.

“We see great strategic value in this transaction for the country, our customers, partners supply base and our shareholders,” Seymour said in a statement. “The combined enterprise will be better positioned to compete in a dynamic, highly competitive marketplace, and provide more affordable products for our customers.”

GenCorp said it expects the deal to close in the first half of 2013, assuming federal regulators approve the merger. 

Meanwhile, the company also announced July 23 the hiring of Pratt & Whitney veteran Warren M. Boley, Jr., to take over as president of Aerojet effective Aug. 20. He succeeds Seymour, who has been running Aerojet since January 2010 in addition to his role as GenCorp chief executive. 

Boley spent 27 years at Pratt & Whitney and served as president of the company’s Military Engines Division. Most recently, he ran his own company, Boley Tool and Machine Works Inc., in East Peoria, Ill.



Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...