10. L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL)
> Arm sales: $9.81 billion
> Total sales: $12.12 billion
> Profit: N/A
> Employment: 45,000
U.S.-based L-3 Holdings subsidiary L-3 Communications edged French electronic systems company Thales out of 10th place this year. L-3 Communications’ arms sales dropped to $9.8 billion in 2014 from $10.3 billion the year before. However, this was a relatively modest decline, especially when compared to other U.S. defense companies.
As is typical among large defense companies, U.S. Department of Defense and other U.S. federal government contracts accounted for approximately 71% of the company’s total annual sales of $12.1 billion in 2014. In addition to the U.S. government, L-3 Communications customers include foreign governments and domestic and international commercial customers. All together, arms sales comprised 81% of total sales.
> Arm sales: $10.54 billion
> Total sales: $19.46 billion
> Profit: $27 million
> Employment: 54,380
Europe’s third-largest military supplier, Italian, state-controlled Finmeccanica sold $10.6 billion worth of arms in 2014. Finmeccanica arms sales dropped by $20 million from 2013 to 2014, mirroring the broad sales declines among U.S. and European companies. Compared to this pattern, however, this was a very small decrease. Still, after a lengthy restructuring aimed at combating declining sales and low profits, Finmeccanica began 2016 under a new structure. After selling its transportation business and trimming other unprofitable endeavors, the company now consists of four primary divisions: helicopter, aeronautics, space, and electronic defense systems.
8. United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX)
> Arm sales: $13.02 billion
> Total sales: $65.10 billion
> Profit: $6.22 billion
> Employment: 211,000
United Technologies Corporation reported $13.0 billion in arms sales in 2014, up $1.1 billion from 2013. The company is one of a handful of major military contractors that have been able to increase arms sales despite declining defense spending worldwide. Arms sales comprise just 20% of the company’s total revenue, which also consists of aerospace, HVAC, and escalator technology. That share may shrink further, as the company has recently sold its Sikorsky Aircraft unit, the manufacturer of the Black Hawk helicopters used by the U.S. military. Sikorsky’s former president will now head Pratt & Whitney, another of the company’s aerospace subsidiaries. In 2012, the U.S. government fined Pratt & Whitney $75 million for violating the Arms Export Control Act by selling military technology to China.