July 25 (Reuters) - U.S. weapons maker Northrop Grumman on Wednesday topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and raised its earnings forecast for 2018, led by sales of parts used in fighter jets as well as a lower tax rate.
The company now expects annual earnings of $16.60 to $16.85 per share, compared with an earlier forecast of $16.20 to $16.45.
Sales at Northrop's aerospace business, which makes the center fuselage for fighter jets including Lockheed Martin's F-35, climbed 11 percent to $3.34 billion in the second quarter ended June 30.
Northrop, like U.S. peers Lockheed and Boeing, is benefiting from stronger global demand for weapons, fighter jets and tanks. The Falls Church, Virginia-based company is also expected to gain from an increase in U.S. defense spending under President Donald Trump's administration.
Northrop's net income rose to $689 million or $3.93 per share in the second quarter, from $555 million or $3.16 per share a year earlier.
Net sales climbed 10 percent to $7.12 billion.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of $3.83 per share and revenue of $7.10 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)