Allen E. Puckett, one of the engineers who after World War II built Hughes Aircraft Co. in Los Angeles into the nation's leading defense electronics company - dominant in the markets for air defense, radar systems, tactical missiles, and satellites - has died. He was 94.

One of the nation's top technologists and defense executives during the Cold War, Puckett died March 31 at his home in Pacific Palisades after suffering a stroke. His wife, Marilyn, confirmed his death.

"Allen Puckett was one of the guiding spirits of Hughes Aircraft," said Malcolm Currie, a former deputy defense secretary who later followed in Puckett's footsteps as another president of the company. "He was brilliant. He was the father of our nation's guided missiles."

Although he never gave up his technical role, Puckett took over as chief executive of the company in 1978 and navigated the enterprise through its sale to General Motors in June 1985. His management style encouraged technical excellence, according to former Hughes scientists.

- Los Angeles Times