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The Hughes Aircraft Company was a major American aerospace and defense contractor founded in 1932 by Howard Hughes in Glendale, California[1] as a division of Hughes Tool Company. The company was known for producing, among other products, the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose aircraft, the atmospheric entry probe carried by the Galileo spacecraft, and the AIM-4 Falcon guided missile.[2][3]

Hughes Aircraft was acquired by General Motors from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1985 and was put under the umbrella of Hughes Electronics, now known as DirecTV, until GM sold its assets to Raytheon in 1997.[4][5]

In 1947, Howard Hughes redirected Hughes Aircraft's efforts from airplanes to helicopters. The effort began in earnest in 1948, when

In 1947, Howard Hughes redirected Hughes Aircraft's efforts from airplanes to helicopters. The effort began in earnest in 1948, when helicopter manufacturer Kellett Aircraft Co. sold its latest design to Hughes for production. The XH-17 "Sky Crane" first flew in October 1952, but was commercially unsuccessful. In 1955, Howard Hughes split the helicopter production unit from the Hughes Aircraft Company, and reconstituted it with Hughes Tool Company, calling it Hughes Tool Company's Aircraft Division. The Aircraft Division had a focus on the production of light helicopters, mainly the Hughes 269/300 and the OH-6 Cayuse/Hughes 500.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute sells Hughes Aircraft Company

Hughes left no will and following his death in 1976 ther

Hughes left no will and following his death in 1976 there were numerous claims to his estate. A Hughes executive and a Hughes lawyer claimed they had the right to set up an "executive committee" to take over the running of the HHMI and its Hughes Aircraft subsidiary. The Attorney General of Delaware Richard R. Wier[16] challenged this and filed suit in 1978. Charles M. Oberly continued the action when he became attorney general in 1983. Oberly stated he wished to see an independent board of trustees to ensure both that the institute fulfilled its charitable mission and that it did not continue to operate as a tax shelter.[17]

In January 1984 Judge Grover C. Brown ruled that the Chancery Court should appoint the trustees because Hughes had not left a succession plan. Brown asked for both the executive committee and the attorney general's office to submit a list of recommendations that he could approve. Brown approved a list in April 1984.[17] In January 1985 the new board of trustees of the HHM

In January 1984 Judge Grover C. Brown ruled that the Chancery Court should appoint the trustees because Hughes had not left a succession plan. Brown asked for both the executive committee and the attorney general's office to submit a list of recommendations that he could approve. Brown approved a list in April 1984.[17] In January 1985 the new board of trustees of the HHMI announced they would sell Hughes Aircraft either by private sale or public stock offering.[18]

On June 5, 1985 General Motors was announced as the winner of a secretive five month, sealed-bid auction. Other bidders included Ford Motor Company and Boeing.[19] The purchase was completed on December 20, 1985, for an estimated $5.2 billion, $2.7 billion in cash and the rest in 50 million shares of GM Class H stock.[20]

On December 31, 1985, General Motors merged Hughes Aircraft with its Delco Electronics unit to form Hughes Electronics Corporation, an independent subsidiary. The group then consisted of: Delco Electronics Corporation and Hughes Aircraft Company.

In August of 1992 Hughes Aircraft completed its purchase of General Dynamics' missile businesses for $450 million.[21] This brought the Tomahawk Cruise Missile, Advanced Cruise Missile, Standard missile, Stinger missile, Phalanx Close-in weapon system, and Rolling Airframe Missile into Hughes' portfolio.

In 1994 Hughes Electronics introduced DirecTV, the world's first high-powered DBS service. In 1995 Hughes Electronic's Hughes Space and Communications division became the largest supplier of commercial satellites. Also in 1995 the group purchased Magnavox Electronic Systems from the Carlyle Group. In 1996 Hughes Electronics and PanAmSat agree to merge their fixed satellite services into a new publicly held company, also called PanAmSat with Hughes Electronics as majority shareholder.

In 1995, Hughes Aircraft sold its Technology Products Division (automated wire and die bonder) to an investor group led by Citicorp and incorporated the division as Palomar Technologies.[22] In 2008, Citicorp sold the bonder d

On December 31, 1985, General Motors merged Hughes Aircraft with its Delco Electronics unit to form Hughes Electronics Corporation, an independent subsidiary. The group then consisted of: Delco Electronics Corporation and Hughes Aircraft Company.

In August of 1992 Hughes Aircraft completed its purchase of General Dynamics' missile businesses for $450 million.[21] This brought the Tomahawk Cruise Missile, Advanced Cruise Missile, Standard missile, Stinger missile, Phalanx Close-in weapon system, and Rolling Airframe Missile into Hughes' portfolio.

In 1994 Hughes Electronics introduced DirecTV, the world's first high-powered DBS service. In 1995 Hughes Electronic's Hughes Space and Communications division became the largest supplier of commercial satellites. Also in 1995 the group purchased Magnavox Electronic Systems from the Carlyle Group. In 1996 Hughes Electronics and PanAmSat agree to merge their fixed satellite services into a new publicly held company, also called PanAmSat with Hughes Electronics as majority shareholder.

In 1995, Hughes Aircraft sold its Technology Products Division (automated wire and die bonder) to an investor group led by Citicorp and incorporated the division as Palomar Technologies.[22] In 2008, Citicorp sold the bonder division to the current management team at Palomar Technologies.[23]

In 1997 GM transferred Delco Electronics to its Delphi Automotive Systems business. Later that year the assets of Hughes Aircraft were sold to Raytheon for $9.5 billion.[24] The remaining companies remained under the Hughes Electronics name and within GM.

In 2000, The Boeing Company purchased three units within Hughes Electronics Corp.: Hughes Space and Communications Co., Hughes Electron Dynamics, and Spectrolab Inc., in addition to Hughes Electronics' interest in HRL, the company's primary research laboratory. The four joined Boeing Satellite Systems, a company subsidiary, later becoming the Satellite Development Center, part of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.[25]

In 2003 the remaining parts of Hughes Electronics (DirecTV, DirecTV Latin America, PanAmSat, Hughes Network Systems) were purchased by News Corporation from GM and renamed The DirecTV Group.

The wide range of science and technology developed by Hughes Aircraft never included medical applications because the company was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). This restriction was imposed to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.[26]

However the money provided to HHMI by Hughes Aircraft led to major improvements to the medical field from genetics, cancer research, to producing doctors who provide care to millions of people.

The city of HHMI by Hughes Aircraft led to major improvements to the medical field from genetics, cancer research, to producing doctors who provide care to millions of people.

The city of Fullerton, California named Hughes Drive after the site that the company formerly occupied before 1997. After Hughes closed, the city developed Amerige Heights, a residential community.