His responsibility includes MOD assets worth £104bn and an annual operating budget of £13bn.
Mr Gray replaces General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue who has been in the post since its creation in April 2007 and is retiring.
Mr Gray will take up his four-year appointment on 4 January 2011.
Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said:
Bernard Gray is without question the best man for this hugely demanding post at a uniquely challenging time. He brings to it deep knowledge and experience of Defence generally, defence procurement specifically, of the Whitehall machine and the commercial world.
Unlike many others who talk about the problems facing defence procurement, he talks about solutions. He will provide clear direction and leadership to DE&S during the very challenging time ahead and will be a huge asset to the Defence Board and the civilian leadership team in Defence.
In a message to MOD staff, Mr Gray said:
It is a great privilege to be asked to lead this key component of our defence effort, and to have the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and vital group of people. The work we do is extremely important, and that is why I have accepted the invitation to take on this role.
Bernard Gray is a business leader with high-level experience in media, telecommunications and Defence, both in the UK and internationally.
Having co-ordinated the widely acclaimed Strategic Defence Review of 1998, Mr Gray was commissioned in 2009 to carry out an independent review of the MOD’s procurement process and to suggest further recommendations on how the Department could improve the purchasing and delivering of equipment.
The report was presented to parliament in October 2009, with the MOD accepting its two main themes: a need to bring equipment plans into line with likely available resources; and a need to improve equipment programme planning, management and delivery.
In his earlier career Mr Gray spent almost 10 years as a journalist on the Financial Times Group, including spells as the FT’s Defence Correspondent and writing the Lex Column. He started his career with five years in investment banking and capital markets working for Bankers Trust and Chase Manhattan in London and New York.
In non-executive roles, Mr Gray has been a director of Cable & Wireless and Five, the UK broadcaster.
The Chief of Defence Materiel role attracted a strong field of both internal and external candidates who were keen to accept the challenges of this key public sector role. Recruitment for the role took place in accordance with the Civil Service Commissioners’ recruitment principles.