M777 ultra-light howitzer by BAE Systems.
M777 ultra-light howitzer by BAE Systems.

Summary:

  • Weapons manufacturing is a $400 billion dollar industry.
  • 6 of the 9 most powerful weapons companies are located in the U.S.

 


Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” – Bhagavad Gita

The arms industry is one of the most profitable and powerful industries in the world.

According to data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the private weapons industry is worth $400 billion world wide. This doesn’t even include China’s state-owned weapons manufacturing plants.

This industry is unlike any others, because what they manufacture can claim thousands of lives.

In a recent speech by the Pope at the Vatican, the Holy See denounced the leaders of the industry of being greedy tyrants, profiting from other people’s deaths:

“This is why some people don’t want peace: they make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education. The devil enters through our wallets.”

We compiled data from the world’s most profitable weapon manufacturing companies (2013) and listed them out in reverse order:

 


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9. Finmeccanica

Flag of ItalyItaly
Annual weapons sales: $10.56 billion

Finmeccanica is an Italian “aerospace, defense and transportation company.” It’s one of the few non-U.S. companies that made the top list. According to a series of emails leaked by WikiLeaks, Finmeccanica supplied mobile communications equipments to the Syrian government during the 2011 uprising. It’s annual weapons sale topped $10.56 billion.

Finmeccanica

 


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8. United Technologies Corporation

Flag of United States USA
Annual weapons sales: $11.9 billion

The United Technologies Corporation (commonly referred to as UTC) is located in Hartford, Connecticut and specializes in missile systems and military helicopters. It’s most well-known product is the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. It’s annual sales in 2013 topped $11.9 billion. According to a study by University of Massachusetts Amherst, UTC is the 38th largest corporate polluter in the U.S.

UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, produced by UTC.
UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, produced by UTC.

 


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7. Airbus Group

Flag of European UnionEuropean Union
Annual weapons sales: $15.74 billion

The Airbus Group is a pan-European group that was formerly known as the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and was reorganized in 2013. It is the world’s largest supplier of helicopters, but also manufactures transport and mission aircraft. The company has been under controversy because it manufacturers cluster bombs and related components.

Airbus Military’s A400M airlifter demonstrates its release of decoy flares. Source: Airbus
Airbus Military’s A400M airlifter demonstrates its release of decoy flares. Source: Airbus

 


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6. General Dynamics

Flag of United StatesU.S.A
Annual weapons sales: $18.66 billion

General dynamics produces the Western world’s most-popular jet fighter: the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It is located in Fairfax County, Virginia and employs 92,200 people. In 2008, General Dynamics was ordered to pay a $4 million fine for fraudulently billing the U.S. Government for defective parts used in US military aircraft and submarines.

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F-16 Fighting Falcons produced by General Dynamics

 


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5. Northrop Grumman

Flag of United StatesU.S.A.
Annual weapons sales: $20.2 billion

Northrop Grumman is an American defense technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California and employs 68,000 people worldwide. It produces surveillance and electronic warfare equipments. It also manufactures the dreaded B-2 Spirit strategic bomber. In 1999, the company was ordered to pay $325 million for knowingly selling the Navy defective aircrafts.

B-2 Spirit strategic bomber by Northrop Grumman. Source: Military Today
B-2 Spirit strategic bomber by Northrop Grumman. Source: Military Today

 


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4. Raytheon

Flag of United StatesU.S.A.
Annual weapons sales: $21.95 billion

Raytheon is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles, including the popular Patriots Missiles. It was founded in 1922 by Vannevar Bush, who played a crucial role in convincing the U.S. government in developing the atomic weapons. In October 2014, Raytheon won a $1 billion contract to produce long-ranged radar for the U.S. Air Force.

Patriots Missile System by Raytheon.
Patriots Missile System by Raytheon.

 


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3. BAE Systems

Flag of United KingdomU.K.
Annual weapons sales: $26.82 billion

BAE Systems is the only British company that topped the list. It’s headquartered in London and was created in 1999 as a mega-merger of two defense companies: Marconi Electronic Systems (MES) and British Aerospace (BAe). It manufactures the M777 howitzer, an ultra-lightweight field artillery.

M777 ultra-light howitzer by BAE Systems.
M777 ultra-light howitzer by BAE Systems.

 


Boeing-Logo
2. Boeing

Flag of United StatesU.S.A.
Annual weapons sales: $30.70 billion

In addition to producing commercial airliners, Boeing gets 45% of its income from producing military jets and weapons. It produces various lines of unmanned striker drones and attack aircrafts. In 2013, its weapons sales topped $30.7 billion.

Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

 


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1. Lockheed Martin

Flag of United StatesU.S.A.
Annual weapons sales: $35.49 billion

The world’s most powerful weapons manufacturer goes to Lockheed Martin. It receives 74% of its revenue from producing military equipment. It created the famed F-22 Raptor fighter jet, one of the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jets available. In 1998, Lockheed Martin attempted an $8.3 billion takeover of Northrup Grumman (#5 on this list), but had to abandon the plan due to government concern over monopoly power. In 2013, the company made a whopping $35.49 billion from weapons sales.

High altitude missile interceptors by Lockheed Martin.
High altitude missile interceptors by Lockheed Martin.