Global sales of arms and military services by the 100 largest defense 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.
These are the 10 companies profiting most from war, according to 24/7 Wall St.: