Linda Hudson will retire next year after taking up the role in 2009.
The company said it would start a search for a successor. Hudson, 62, joined BAE in 2007 and took over as chief executive in 2009. She became the first woman to head a major US defence operation, placing her in a small club of female CEOs heading what amounts to a Fortune 500 company.
Hudson will stay in her post through the first quarter of 2014 and will remain on the US company's board until April 2015, BAE said. She will step down from the BAE board and the parent group's executive committee at the end of March 2014.
Hudson told employees in a statement that she had mixed emotions about leaving the company, but still had many goals left to achieve.
'I have many more things I want to do professionally and philanthropically; many places I want to go; and family and friends I'd like to see more often,' Hudson said.
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