The Defense Budget is the largest discretionary item of the Federal Budget, totaling approximately $750 billion in 2021. A large portion of the defense budget goes to the private sector, including defense contractors. Several defense contractors have annual revenue above $50 billion. Among the largest of these is the contractor that builds the most weapons for the U.A. Army – General Dynamics.
General Dynamics is one of the so-called “Big Five” military contractors, which also include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Not only do these companies have billions of dollars of defense revenue per year, but they also have tens of billions of dollars in backorders for weapons systems that are built over multiple year periods. (Here are other companies profiting the most from war.)
To get a sense of how much money the Army, and the Defense Department overall, spends each year, no one needs to go beyond General Dynamics’ revenue and profits. General Dynamics revenue last year was just above $38 billion. Profits ran just over $3 billion. Its market capitalization is over $60 billion.
Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, General Dynamics has 31 contracts with the Army alone, based on the most recent Army Weapon Systems Handbook for 2020-2021, published by the U.S. Army. Notable weapons systems in development include air and missile defense planning and control systems, Abrams main battle tanks, mortar weapons systems, and Stryker brigade combat team. (Also see, states with the largest U.S. Army presence.)
Outside the Big Five, the production of major weapons systems involve numerous lesser known companies, including North Carolina-based Collins Aerospace, one of the contractors for the Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, a high-tech reconnaissance drone.
See 24/7 Wall St.’s list of contractors that build the most U.S. Army weapons systems.
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