The U.S. department of defense just proposed its 2024 budget, asking for an astounding $842 billion from congress. That figure is larger than the entire economy of 90% of the countries on Earth. (also see the 35 billion-dollar weapons in the U.S. Military budget this year) While American defense spending includes benefits for military personnel as well as pay, the majority of the spending goes to the corporations with weapons contracts with the U.S. government.
The DOD uses on contractors for everything from maintenance to construction of bases, as well as developing and manufacturing weapons. Hundreds of billions of dollars flow to the private sector from the Pentagon each year, making the U.S. defense industry by far the largest of any country in the world. In fact, of the 100 largest weapons manufacturers in the world, a staggering 40 are headquartered in the United States.
Using 2021 arms sales data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Arms Industry Database, 24/7 Wall St. identified the largest American weapons manufacturers, as measured by arms and military services sales. Each of the 36 companies on this list reported at least $1 billion in arms sales in 2021.
The products and services the companies on this list provide include communication and navigation systems, small arms ammunition, precision guided missiles, submarines, surface vessels, fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and battle tanks. The companies reporting the most revenue from arms sales have furnished the U.S. Air Force and Navy with hundreds of fighter jets and other aircraft, many of which have price tags of over $100 million. (these are the U.S. Air Force’s favorite planes.)
Weapons procurement is only part of the picture, however, as many of the more sophisticated weapons systems used by the military are the product of years of development. The Air Force’s new long-range nuclear stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, for example, which should be having its first flight at some point this year, was developed by Northrop Grumman, a Virginia-based contractor, over seven years before its introduction last December. (Here is a look at the U.S. military’s 15 weapons of the future)
Not only do the companies on this list often collaborate with the Pentagon on weapons development, but they often also collaborate with each other. Many weapons systems in the U.S. arsenal are so advanced that no single company can manage production from start to finish. A single fighter jet or tank may integrate an engine from one company, a computer system from another, and a gun turret from yet another.
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