A defense contractor
is a business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...
organization or individual that provides product
In general, the product is defined as a "thing produced by labor or effort" or the "result of an act or a process", and stems from the verb produce, from the Latin prōdūce ' lead or bring forth'. Since 1575, the word "product" has referred to anything produced...
s or services to a military department of a government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...
. Products typically include military aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...
, ships, vehicles, weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...
ry, and electronic systems
Electronic systems are groupings of electronic circuits and components which are designed to accomplish one or more complex functions. Examples include telecommunication systems, computer systems, power distribution systems, radar systems, electronic music systems, and many others.Electronic...
. Services can include logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...
, technical support and training
Military education and training is a process which intends to establish and improve the capabilities of military personnel in their respective roles....
Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded...
support, and in some cases team-based engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...
in cooperation with the government.
Military contractors do not generally provide direct support of military operations. Under 1949 Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...
military contractors engaged in direct support of military operations may be legitimate targets of military attacks. Compare to a private military contractor.
Defense contracting has expanded dramatically over the last decade, particularly in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
, where in the last fiscal year the Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...
spent nearly $316 billion on contracts. Contractors have also assumed a much larger on-the-ground presence during recent American conflicts: during the 1991 Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...
the ratio of uniformed military to contractors was about 50 to 1, while during the first four years of the Iraq War
the U.S. hired over 190,000 contractors, surpassing the total American military presence even during the 2007 Iraq surge and 23 times greater than other allied military personnel numbers. In Afghanistan, the presence of almost 100,000 contractors has resulted in a near 1 to 1 ratio with military personnel.
List of notable defense contractors worldwide
| 2009 rank
|| 2008 rank
|| 2007 rank
|| Company (country)
|| 2009 arms sales (US$ m.)
|| 2008 arms sales (US$ m.)
|| 2007 arms sales (US$ m.)
|| Arms sales as share of company’s total sales (%),
|| Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....
|| BAE Systems
BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that has global interests, particularly in North America through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. BAE is among the world's largest military contractors; in 2009 it was the...
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...
|| Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...
|| General Dynamics
General Dynamics Corporation is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. Its headquarters are in West Falls Church , unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Falls Church area.The company has...
Raytheon Company is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. It was previously involved in corporate and special-mission aircraft until early 2007...
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. is a global pan-European aerospace and defence corporation and a leading defence and military contractor worldwide...
Finmeccanica S.p.A. is an Italian conglomerate. Finmeccanica is the second largest industrial group and the largest of the hi-tech industrial groups based in Italy. It works in the fields of defence, aerospace, security, automation, transport and energy...
|| L-3 Communications
L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. is a company that supplies command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and products, avionics, ocean products, training devices and services, instrumentation, space, and navigation products. Its customers include...
|| United Technologies
|| Thales Group
The Thales Group is a French electronics company delivering information systems and services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets...
|| Computer Sciences Corp.
Computer Sciences Corporation is an American information technology and business services company headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, USA...
Honeywell International, Inc. is a major conglomerate company that produces a variety of consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments....
Safran is a French conglomerate involved in defense, aerospace propulsion and equipment, and security. It is the result of a merger between the propulsion and aerospace equipment group SNECMA and the defense conglomerate SAGEM. Its headquarters are located in Paris.The name Safran, literally...
|| ITT Corp.
ITT Corporation is a global diversified manufacturing company based in the United States. ITT participates in global markets including water and fluids management, defense and security, and motion and flow control...
|| General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...
Rolls-Royce Group plc is a global power systems company headquartered in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines , and also has major businesses in the marine propulsion and energy sectors. Through its defence-related activities...
|| AM General
AM General is an American heavy vehicle manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. It is best known for the civilian Hummer and the military Humvee, that is assembled in Mishawaka, Indiana...
|[N = New to the SIPRI Top 100]
Source: http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/production/Top100 "Arms sales are defined by SIPRI as sales of military goods and services to military customers, including both domestic and export sales. Military goods and services are those which are designed specifically for military purposes."
- Arms industry
The arms industry is a global industry and business which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology and equipment. It comprises government and commercial industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military material, equipment and facilities...
- Government contractor
A government contractor is a private company that produces goods or services under contract for the government. Often the terms of the contract specify cost plus – i.e., the contractor gets paid for its costs, plus a specified profit margin. Laws often require governments to award contracts...
- List of NASA contractors
- List of United States defense contractors
- Military-industrial complex
Military–industrial complex , or Military–industrial-congressional complex is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them...