Growth in Boeing's defense business, which won a lucrative series of military contracts this summer, pushed third-quarter sales higher than Wall Street expected despite a slowdown in commercial aircraft deliveries.

Companywide, revenue rose 4 percent to $25 billion in the three months through September, Boeing said Wednesday, topping the $24 billion that analysts expected. Net income climbed 31 percent to $2.3 billion, and Boeing raised its full-year profit forecast 4 percent to as much as $15.10 a share.

"Our teams continued to perform at a high level," Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement. "During the quarter, we captured important new defense business."

Indeed, Boeing landed more than $13 billion in defense contracts, including an a $805 million order from the U.S. Navy for four MQ-25 Stingrays, tanker drones with the ability to refuel fighter jets in mid-flight. Boeing was also awarded a $9.2 billion contract to replace the Air Force's aging training jets.

The company's decision to pursue the contracts is part of a "targeted and very deliberate strategy focused on some key defense franchise" that "have life-cycles that are measured in decades," Muilenburg told investors.

"Those two programs combined have a $60 billion opportunity space connected with them," he said on the earnings call.

Overall, revenue at the defense, space, and security business rose 13 percent to $5.7 billion, though the unit posted an operating loss.

Revenue in Boeing's commercial aircraft division, the other major moneymaker for the firm, dropped slightly to $15 billion as deliveries fell 6 percent. Its profit, however, climbed 34 percent to $2.02 billion.

In the midst of the Trump administration's escalating trade conflict with China, Muilenburg called the region the fastest growing market for aerospace. The White House previously imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products, which drew retaliatory levies by the communist nation, and trade discussions with Beijing remain at a stalemate.

Boeing maintains "a long-term" view on trade and is in continued discussions with the "U.S. government and other governments around the world," Muilenburg said.

"We’re very engaged with our Chinese airlines customers and leadership in China," he told investors.

Boeing previously estimated that China would spend upwards of $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years on nearly 7,700 new planes, representing a key growth area for the company.

The company's stock was up 1.36 percent to $354.82 in New York trading.