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An aerospace veteran joins Apple

November 17, 2010: 10:46 AM ET

Steve Jobs names Ronald Sugar, former Northrop Grumman CEO, to his board of directors

Photo: Getty Images

With the death of  Jerry York in March and the forced departure of Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt in August 2009, Apple (AAPL) found itself with a couple empty seats in its board room.

On Wednesday it announced that it had reached into the aerospace industry to fill one of them.

Dr. Ronald D. Sugar, 61, the former chairman of the board and CEO of Northrop Grumman (NOC), will serve as the chair of Apple's audit and finance committee.

An electrical engineer by training (BS, MS, PhD UCLA) and a former chief financial officer, Sugar has worked for more than four decades in a high-tech industry, but one -- unlike Apple's -- heavily dependent on government contracts.

"I have always had enormous admiration for the people of Apple," said Sugar in a prepared statement. "It is a special privilege to serve on the board of such an amazing company."

The choice was greeted positively by analysts contacted by Fortune. "Sugar's background certainly provides some gravitas," said Hudson Square's Daniel Ernst. "Apple has moved from feisty competitor to one of the biggest companies in the world by market capitalization – and therefore it certainly helps to have the advice and counsel of those who have come from there."

Apple's press release below the fold.

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