Photo: US Navy
This post originally appeared at 24/7 Wall St. Global sales of arms and military services by the 100 largest defence contractors increased in 2010 to $411.1 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The increase reflects a decade-long trend of growing military spending. Since 2002, total arms sales among the 100 largest arms manufacturers have increased 60%.
The institute recently published its annual report on the leading arms producing companies in the world — SIPRI Top 100. The report identifies the largest companies in the sector and provides each company’s arms sales as a percentage of its total sales. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies with the highest revenue from arms sales. These companies alone account for $230 billion — over half of all arms sales that year.
While many industries continued to suffer in 2010 as a result of the financial crisis, leaders in the arms and military services were largely unaffected. According to SIPRI arms industry expert Dr. Susan Jackson, when sales dropped, it was not because of the financial crisis. Instead, Dr. Jackson notes that loss in sales was due to “the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and the subsequent expected decrease in related equipment sales.”
The composition of the 10 largest manufacturers reflects the state of modern warfare. More and more, battles are fought remotely through air surveillance and strikes rather than on-the-ground combat. As a consequence, seven of the 10 largest companies are among the leading aerospace companies. Surveillance and battlefield communications also are increasingly important in modern warfare. All of the companies in the top 10 have significant electronics divisions.
Of the 100 companies on the list, 44 are based in the U.S., including Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. The American companies account for more than 60% of arms sales revenue of the 100 manufacturers. Seven of SIPRI’s top 10 are American, one is British, one is Italian and one is a multinational EU conglomerate. The U.S. federal government has contract deals with all seven American companies. These seven are among the top 10 U.S. federal contractors by amount procured, according to the government’s Federal Procurement Data System.
24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of the SIPRI 100 includes revenue for arms sales for 2007, 2009 and 2010, as well as percentage of company revenue from arms sales, employees, industry and applicable military division. 24/7 Wall St. also included history of each company and notable weapons systems manufactured.
- Arms sales 2010: $11.41 billion
- Total sales 2010: $54.33 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 21%
- Total profit: $4.71 billion
- Total employment: 208,220
- Sector: Aircraft, Electronics, Engines
Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies is a multicompany industrial conglomerate with subsidiaries that include elevator company Otis and refrigeration giant Carrier. The company also manufactures components for use in military aircraft and vehicles. One of its subsidiaries, Pratt & Whitney, builds aircraft engines for dozens of different fighter jets. Among the jets equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines are the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the latter of which is being produced by the hundreds for nine different countries. United Technologies is also heavily involved in aircraft manufacturing. It owns Sikorsky, one of the largest helicopter manufacturers in the world. Sikorsky builds the popular UH-60 Black Hawk. Roughly one-fifth of United Technologies' total revenue came from arms sales in 2010.
- Arms sales 2010: $13.07 billion
- Total sales 2010: $15.68 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 83%
- Total profit: $0.96 billion
- Total employment: 63,000
- Sector: Electronics, Services
L-3 Communications is a top contractor in fields such as communications, intelligence and surveillance. According to the company, its customers include nearly every defence, intelligence and security agency in the U.S., as well as allied foreign governments and commercial customers. Among its many products, the company produces the L-3 SmartDeck, a fully integrated cockpit system, and the AVCATT mobile aviation training simulator, designed for the U.S. Army. Although the company's arms sales have increased steadily for a number of years, their rate of increase slowed significantly between 2009 and 2010. The company's rank among largest arms producers fell from 2007's eighth to ninth in 2010.
- Arms sales 2010: $14.41 billion
- Total sales 2010: $24.76 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 58%
- Total profit: $0.74 billion
- Total employment: 75,200
- Sector: Aircraft, Artillery, Electronics, Missiles, Military vehicles, Small arms/ammunition
Italian defence contractor Finmeccanica is the largest high-tech industrial group in Italy. Partially owned by the Italian government, the conglomerate has a large array of products in six areas: aeronautics, helicopters, defence systems and electronics, space, transportation and energy. The company has formed dozens of joint ventures in Europe and the rest of the world. Notable Finmeccanica enterprises include helicopter manufacturer Augusta Enterprises, missile manufacturer MBDA and EuroTorp, the world's leading antisubmarine torpedo manufacturer. In 2007, Finmeccanica was the number nine weapons manufacturer in the world. In 2010, it moved to eighth, with a 46% increase in sales over that time.
- Arms sales 2010: $16.36 billion
- Total sales 2010: $60.60 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 27%
- Total profit: $0.73 billion
- Total employment: 121,690
- Sector: Aircraft, Electronics, Missiles, Space
European company EADS, short for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V., is the second of three non-U.S. companies on this list. The corporation, which includes major subsidiaries such as Airbus, is a leader in aerospace and defence products. EADS has a 37% share in missile manufacturer MBDA, and is one of the companies responsible for the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet. Only 27% of EADS's sales are arms sales, which is the second-smallest share among the largest arms-producing companies. The company has a major presence in markets in the Middle East, North America, Europe and more.
- Arms sales 2010: $22.98 billion
- Total sales 2010: $25.18 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 91%
- Total profit: $1.88 billion
- Total employment: 72,400
- Sector: Electronics, Missiles
Raytheon is a Cambridge, Mass.-based American defence contractor. It is the world's largest manufacturer of guided missiles and produces such widely used weapons as the AIM-7 Sparrow missile, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile and the BGM-109 Tomahawk. The company is also responsible for the Air Warfare Simulation program used by the U.S. Air Force. In 2010, the company had nearly $23 billion in arms sales, more than 90% of its total revenue for the year. These sales were up 17% from 2007.
- Arms sales 2010: $23.94 billion
- Total sales 2010: $32.47 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 74%
- Total profit: $2.62 billion
- Total employment: 90,000
- Sector: Artillery, Electronics, Military vehicles, Small arms/ammunition, Ships
General Dynamics is an American defence company that deals in aerospace, combat systems, information systems and technology, and marine systems. Although the company has been around since 1952, it has enjoyed a resurgence beginning in the 1990s, thanks largely to a number of mergers. Since 1997 General Dynamics says it has acquired more than 50 companies. Over this same period, its revenue increased from $4 billion to more than $32 billion. It also added more than 60,000 employees to its workforce. Currently, 74% of the company's sales are arms sales. General Dynamics owns Electric Boat and Bath Iron Works, two of the largest naval vessel builders in the world. General Dynamics is notable known for its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, the Seawolf-class submarine, the M1 Abrams tank and the Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer.
- Arms sales 2010: $28.15 billion
- Total sales 2010: $34.76 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 81%
- Total profit: $2.05 billion
- Total employment: 117,100
- Sector: Aircraft, Electronics, Missiles, Ships, Space
Northrop Grumman is the fourth-largest weapons contractor in the U.S. The company, which is based in Falls Church, Va., is one of the leaders in aerospace technology and the leading producer of naval vessels in the world. The company manufactures Nimitz-class carriers that are the current flagships of the U.S. Navy. And over the next few years it is also set to build the new, $9.7 billion Gerald R. Ford-class supercarriers. Northrop Grumman also develops radar systems for aircraft and ground defence, sensor systems for a variety of vehicles and several unmanned aircraft and drones. Weapons systems sales accounted for 81% of company revenue in 2010. Arms sales grew by approximately $3.5 billion between 2007 and 2010.
- Arms sales 2010: $31.36 billion
- Total sales 2010: $64.31 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 49%
- Total profit: $3.31 billion
- Total employment: 160,500
- Sector: Aircraft, Electronics, Missiles, Space
As recently as 2007, Boeing was the largest arms producer in the world. By 2008, it had fallen behind Lockheed Martin and U.K.-based BAE Systems. The aerospace and defence company remains one of the largest in the world, however. Boeing is the second-largest aircraft producer in the world by deliveries, behind only Airbus. It is also the second-largest U.S. government contractor, procuring just under $19.5 billion in contracts in 2010. Major products produced by the company include the KC-767, an aerial refueling tanker, and the F-15 fighter jet. Boeing made less in arms sales in 2010 than it did in 2009, although arms sales made up a larger amount of total sales -- two percentage points, to be exact -- in 2010 compared to 2009. Even in 2010, however, only 49% of revenue came from arms sales, which is among the lowest rates among companies on this list.
- Arms sales 2010: $32.88 billion
- Total sales 2010: $34.61 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 95%
- Total profit: $1.67 billion
- Total employment: 98,200
- Sector: Aircraft, Artillery, Electronics, Missiles, Military vehicles, Small arms/ammunition, Ships
BAE Systems is an aerospace and defence contractor based in the UK. The company has a major U.S. subsidiary, BAE Systems, Inc., which by itself would be the seventh-largest weapons manufacturer in the world. The British company was formed in 1999 through the merger of Marconi Electronics (which was at the time a subsidiary of GE) and British Aerospace. BAE produces weapons systems in nearly every major military category, including aircraft, defence electronics, vehicles, naval vessels and small arms. Among the company's notable contributions are the M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicle, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Type 45 destroyer and the Astute-class nuclear submarine. In 2010, 95% of its revenue came from arms sales, $32.88 billion in all.
- Arms sales 2010: $35.73 billion
- Total sales 2010: $45.80 billion
- Arms sales as pct. of total sales: 78%
- Total profit: $2.93 billion
- Total employment: 132,000
- Sector: Aircraft, Electronics, Missiles, Space
Lockheed Martin is the largest arms-producing and military services company in the world, with nearly $3 billion more in arms sales than second place BAE Systems. Although military sales make up the majority of its revenue, it is significantly less than many other major arms-producers, including BAE's 95% share. In addition to being the world's largest arms-seller, Lockheed is also the largest federal contractor in the U.S. by a large margin. In 2010, the company's government contracts totaled nearly $36 billion. Lockheed produces a number of major products, including the Trident missile and the F-16 and F-22 fighter jets. Despite being the largest military service company on this list, Lockheed is only the fourth-largest company by overall sales among the companies featured on this list. In 2007, the Lockheed was the third-largest arms producer.
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