Sunday, September 02, 2018
Getting More Bucks for the Bang: America's Top Military Contractors
Tops on the list is Lockheed Martin, which is known for its missile systems and fighters such as the F-35 Lighting II. They are currently working on a $528 million dollar interceptor missile system called "THAAD", which stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system which is to be used as a "shield" from short and middle range ballistic missile attacks. Lockheed Martin currently has 66,353 contracts awarded totaling $29.4 billion dollars. Lockheed makes a vast array of other military hardware including the F-22 Raptor, C-130 Hercules, F-16 Falcon, P-3 Orion, F-117 Nighhawk, and the AC-130W Stinger.
Coming in second is Boeing, which not only produces commercial passenger planes but military aircraft such as the EA-18G "Growler" which provides tactical electronic jamming designed to interfere with enemy communications and various electronic equipment. That contract is valued at $897.5 million dollars. Boeing has 12,645 contracts totaling $14.6 billion dollars. Boeing also make the C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker, E-3 AWACS surveillance aircraft, drones, and various types of satellites.
Forth is General Dynamics, which has been one of those long time military contractor going back decades to World War I. General Dynamics has 20,822 military contracts worth $11.8 billion dollars. They are currently working on $664.3 million contract to produce an additional DDG-51 Class Destroyer for the US Navy, which is described as a "all steel, gas turbine ship equipped with a AEGIS combat system, Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, two embarked SH-60 helicopters, advanced anti-aircraft missiles, satellites, and Tomahawk anti-ship/anti-land attack missiles. Sounds like a lot of "bang" for the bucks doesn't it? In addition, General Dynamics is known for the M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, Stryker, Buffalo, Cougar, and Ajax armored fighting vehicles. Of course, there's the ever handy GAU-19/B .50 caliber Gatling gun and the Hydra 70 unguided missile systems, the M2/M2-A1 heavy machine gun, and the MK19/MK47 grenade launcher which are good for keeping those pesky neighbors on their side of the fence.
Fifth on the Top 10 list of leading military contractors is Northrop Grumman which has produced some of America's most famous aircraft like the Stealth Fight and Stealth Bomber. The company has been tasked with producing a new generation long range stealth bombers to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of bombers. The contract is worth $55 billion dollars. The company currently has 10,397 contracts totaling $9.5 billion dollars. They also manufacture the A-10 Thunderbolt II or as it's better known, the "Warthog", the E-2D Advance Hawkeye surveillance aircraft, the B-2 Stealth Bomber, F-18 Super Hornet, and the F-35 Lighting II.
Sixth is United Technologies, with 24,626 contracts valued at $6.6 billion dollars. The company is working on a $1.04 billion contract to produce a new generation of engines for the F-35 multipurpose fighter jet through its subsidiary, Pratt & Whitney. They also produce everything for ejection seats to highly sensitive surveillance systems for drones as well as defense satellites, sensors, and controls.
In eight place is BAE System, a British company, which produces the M109A7 Self-propelled howitzer and M992A3 ammo carrier for the US Army and Marines Corp. A $245.3 million contract will upgrade the Paladin chassis system. As a bonus, it includes a "high voltage" gun drive and projectile ramming system for rapid hands-off loading. BAE Systems has 10,133 contracts worth $4.2 billion dollars. BAE also manufactures the MK-38 Mod-3 machine gun system for ships, the 40MK Naval Gun, and the 57MM Naval Gun, as well various control systems.
In ninth place comes something of a surprise, Humana, Inc. The Louisville, Kentucky based company provides healthcare for active duty, veterans, and their families through the TRICARE Health System. Humana has 206 contracts valued at $3.5 billion dollars. Other healthcare providers include Health Net, Inc, Merck & Company Inc, Cardinal Health Inc, Pfizer Inc, GlaxoSmithKline Inc, United Healthcare Group, and McKesson Corporation.
Of course, these are just the top ten defense contractors and doesn't include companies like Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, Hughes Corporation, Huntington Ingalls Industries, General Electric, Harris Corporation, General Atomics, or companies like Leidos which is a scientific, engineering and biological research company or the various pharmaceutical, laboratory, and technical research companies and universities . It also doesn't it touch the internationally based corporations which do business with the Pentagon such as Leonardo (UK), Thales Group (France), Airbus (EU), or Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan).
I also have to point out that various lists have several of these companies ranked higher or lower, as well as adding some while not including others. These are based on current contracts and the needs of the military at a given time plus approval of the Pentagon's "wish list" for assorted projects. I've included some of the lists below in the references in case you want to compare rankings.
Nevertheless, the "military-industrial complex" is huge; practically no area of economy is not affected in one fashion or another. It includes information technology, medical, genetic and biological research, all specialties of engineering (but especially chemical, robotics and aerospace), computer science, psychology, and even (perhaps especially) academia. America, at present, is engaged in some form of conflict in approximately 75 countries either directly or indirectly with no sign of slowing down. If we were to actually run out of bombs or missiles (which is highly unlikely), we'd no doubt start dropping sacks of rocks! Face it, we're all tied to the war machine in one way or another.
While the number of those in poverty has fallen over the last two years, there are still 40.6 million American living in poverty, which includes 13.3 million children according to the Marguerite Casey Foundation, with the overall poverty rate standing at 12.7%. 4.6 million seniors (65 and older) currently live in poverty (by the way, I'm specifically not separating by race because in my opinion, poverty is poverty regardless of skin color).
According to the association, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Poor, 1 in 8 Americans struggle with having enough to eat; many are forced to choose between paying their bills--rent, heat, medical--or buying food. In 2016, 41% of major cities saw an increase in requests for emergency food assistance. Of that figure, 63% were families. 51% were currently employed, and 18% were elderly while 8% were homeless. In fact, the US has one of the highest poverty rate of any industrial nations in the world (we are ranked 29th out of 31 industrial countries according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In June 2018, the US Senate voted to approved a budget of $716 billion dollars for the Pentagon, with an eye toward the $1 billion mark within the next few years. That's 17% of the entire US budget. It also represents a $82 billion dollar increase over its 2017 budget and despite that fact that we're nearing a $1 trillion dollar deficit. Meanwhile the Department of Health and Human Services will see its budget cut by 33%; HUD by 13% and the Department of Education by 14%. The Small Business Administration's cut is 5% but Labor Department's is 21%. The EPA will see a 31% cut in its budget. Something about that just doesn't seem right.
The US doles out billions of dollars to defense contractors in order to fund our never-ending "War on Terror", which often creates more enemies than we had before! Plus we shouldn't forget the "enemies" our intelligence agencies have manufactured for us either, usually to help overthrow some government that won't cooperate with the corporate puppet masters, the Oligarchy, which seems to control just about everything. Couldn't we drop a few thousand less bombs or build a few dozen less bombers, tanks, or war ships and spend it on those who could really use a helping hand up in this country?
The Top 9 biggest defense contractors in America
America's 15 biggest defense contractors
Top 100 Contractors of the U.S. federal government
List of defense contractors