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Boeing defense chief sees rising R&D, margins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co's defense division expects to continue growing its research and development spending and operating margins in coming years, regardless of what happens with top line revenues, the head of Boeing Defense Space and Security said on Wednesday.

"We'll fight our way through this environment," Dennis Muilenburg told the company's investor conference.

He said the company's programs were well aligned with the Pentagon's priorities and sales should be flat, despite an expected decline in overall U.S. defense spending.

Combined with prospects for rising international sales, that meant Boeing's defense revenues would be stable to incrementally higher, Muilenburg said.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)