Via: USA Today
Samuel Weigley, March 10, 2013
The business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide.
These companies have benefited tremendously from the growth in military spending in the U.S., which by far has the largest military budget in the world. In 2000, the U.S. defense budget was approximately $312 billion. By 2011, the figure had grown to $712 billion. Arm sales grew alongside general defense spending growth. SIPRI noted that between 2002 and 2011, arms sales among the top 100 companies grew by 51%.
However, the trend has recently reversed. In 2011, the top 100 arms dealers sold 5% less compared to 2010. Susan Jackson, a SIPRI defense expert, said in an email to 24/7 Wall St. that austerity measures in Western Europe and the U.S. have delayed or slowed the procurement of different weapons systems. Austerity concerns have exacerbated matters. Federal budget cuts that took effect in March mean military spending could contract by more than $500 billion over the coming decade unless policymakers negotiate a pullback on the mandated cuts.
In addition, the U.S.’ involvement in conflicts abroad continue to wind down. The last American convoy in Iraq left the country in December 2011. Troop withdrawals from Afghanistan also began in 2011. Finally, SIPRI pointed out sanctions on arms transfers to Libya have contributed to declining arms sales.
Many defense contractors are looking overseas to make up for slowing sales in the U.S. and Europe. Arms producers are especially keen on Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia, Jackson said. For instance, BAE is securing contracts with Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the chief financial officer of Northrop Grumman has recently indicated his company may sell its Global Hawk airplane to South Korea or Japan.
Based on the SIPRI report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 biggest weapons companies. Arms were defined as sales to military customers, either for procurement or for export, but do not include sales of general purpose items, such as oil or computer equipment. We looked at sales figures for two years through 2011, among other metrics. Here are the 10 companies that profit the most from war:
Read more: here
But the jobs…We can’t give up the jobs…