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It’s a well-known fact that the U.S. has the top defense systems in the world. What’s often easy to forget, is that the U.S. government contracts out most of the work it needs done to private companies.
While the U.S. Department of Defense has contracts with organizations all over the world, it has more than a few with American companies for the research, development, and manufacturing of the equipment and systems it needs.
In this article, you’ll find a list of the 15 largest defense companies in the U.S. This ranking was created based on the amount each company received in defense contracts from the DOD in the fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020).
While the DOD also has sizable contracts with insurance, health care, and construction companies, this particular list only includes companies that produce defense products, systems, and services.
Lockheed Martin — North Bethesda, Maryland
Raytheon Technologies — Waltham, Massachusetts
General Dynamics Corp. — Reston, Virginia
The Boeing Company — Chicago, Illinois
Northrop Grumman Corp. — Falls Church, Virginia
Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. — Newport News, Virginia
BAE Systems plc — Falls Church, Virginia
L3Harris Technologies, Inc. — Melbourne, Florida
General Electric Company — Boston, Massachusetts
Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc. — Virginia Beach, Virginia
Leidos Holdings, Inc. — Reston, Virginia
Oshkosh Corp. — Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Science Applications International Corp. — Reston, Virginia
Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. — McLean, Virginia
Bechtel Corp. — Reston, Virginia
15 Largest Defense Companies in the U.S.
Lockheed Martin began in 1995 when Lockheed Corporation merged with Martin Marietta. Now the company has approximately 110,000 employees working in over 375 facilities in the U.S. and abroad.
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company, and its main areas of business are aeronautics, missiles and fire control, rotary and mission systems, and space.
The company researches, designs, develops, manufactures, integrates, and sustains the technology systems it produces, making it a giant in the defense industry.
Most of Lockheed Martin’s business comes from the DOD and other government agencies, but it also sells products to international and commercial customers.
Lockheed Martin’s subsidiaries include Sikorsky Aircraft, United Launch Alliance, and Skunk Works.
Raytheon Technologies came to be in 2020 when Raytheon Corporation merged with United Technologies Corporation, creating one of the largest aerospace and defense manufacturers in the world.
Raytheon Technologies works in aviation, space, and defense through its four main businesses: Collins Aerospace, Pratt and Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence and Space, and Raytheon Missiles and Defense.
The company has over 195,000 employees who work on researching, designing, and/or manufacturing aircraft engines, avionics, aerostructures, cybersecurity, data analytics, missiles, power and controls, air defense systems, and more.
Raytheon Technologies serves commercial, military, and government customers around the world.
In 1952, several companies merged to form General Dynamics Corporation. Just two years later, the company christened the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.
Now, General Dynamics has over 100,000 employees and works in nearly every area of defense. Its business divisions are Aerospace, Marine Systems, Combat Systems, and Technologies.
General Dynamics’ major products include Gulfstream business jets, combat vehicles, command and control systems, weapons systems, shipbuilding and repair, IT products and services, and nuclear submarines.
Perhaps best known for its commercial airplanes, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and also designs and manufactures rockets, satellites, missiles, telecommunications equipment, helicopters, and military planes.
The company sells its products and provides professional support to government and commercial customers all over the world.
In addition to its physical products, Boeing offers professional support in engineering, digital analytics, supply chain, and training. It offers this as an independent service, which means that even customers who don’t have Boeing machines can use its support services.
Northrop Grumman’s fields of expertise include space, aeronautics, defense, and cyberspace. While the majority of its business comes from the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence agencies, it also serves over 25 other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea.
Northrop Grumman is known for consistently being on the cutting edge of new technology, mainly for defense purposes.
Some of the company’s most notable products include the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, the X-47B unmanned aircraft, and the Lunar Module.
Since it spun off from Northrop Grumman in 2011, Huntington Ingalls Industries has built over 70% of the U.S. Navy’s fleet and all of its aircraft carriers, making it the U.S.’s largest military shipbuilding company.
The company doesn’t stop there, however. HII also produces unmanned systems, nuclear submarines (it’s the only other company besides General Dynamics that makes them), amphibious ships, and other defense services.
HII has over 42,000 employees working around the world in its three divisions: Newport News Shipbuilding, Ingalls Shipbuilding, and Technical Solutions.
BAE Systems plc. Falls Church, Virginia
While BAE Systems plc is technically a British company, it does have a U.S. subsidiary, BAE Systems, Inc., which is headquartered in Virginia.
BAE Systems, Inc. has about 35,000 employees worldwide who provide products and services for both commercial and military customers.
The company works with intelligence systems, electronic systems, specialized security and protection products, armored combat vehicles, artillery systems, and munitions. Like some of its competitors, BAE Systems both develops products and provides services for its customers in these areas.
L3Harris Technologies, Inc. Melbourne, Florida
L3Harris is a technology company that works with defense needs of all kinds, whether that be in the air, on land, at sea, in space, or in cyberspace.
The company is relatively young, as it officially began in 2019 when L3 Technologies and Harris Corporation merged. Just because it’s young doesn’t mean it’s small, though, as L3Harris currently has about 48,000 employees and serves 100 countries.
L3Harris specializes in surveillance, microwave weaponry, and electronic warfare, as well as IT services and communications equipment and systems. The company serves both defense and commercial customers.
The average consumer probably knows General Electric Company best for its light bulbs, and rightly so, since Thomas Edison helped found the company in 1892.
GE has expanded into many fields since then, though, including aviation, healthcare, power, and renewable energy.
As far as DOD contracts go, most are with GE’s aviation sector. These contracts include projects such as turbofan fighter aircraft engines and gas turbines for Navy frigates. GE is also a supplier for other companies like Lockheed Martin and serves many commercial customers as well.
Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc. Virginia Beach, Virginia
A much smaller company than many on this list, Atlantic Diving Supply was a dive shop with just five employees in 1997. Since then, it has grown to over 300 employees, over a quarter of whom are U.S. military veterans or have held federal, law enforcement, or first responder roles in the past.
These are also the groups that ADS serves by creating equipment and systems to solve their needs for weapons, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, systems and strategies, robotics, diving and research equipment, and more.
The company also works to maintain a strong worldwide infrastructure to ensure that it can efficiently deliver its products and provide security services all over the world as soon as they’re needed.
Leidos is a company of 38,000 employees that works in aviation, defense, energy, healthcare, intelligence, physical science, space, and surface transportation. While many other companies on this list that work in these areas build products to sell, Leidos’ main focus is on research and development.
The company began as Science Applications International Corporation, and its first contract in 1969 was for analyzing nuclear weapon effects for the U.S. government. This was closely followed by a 1970 contract with the Los Alamos National Laboratory for studying radiation-based cancer therapy.
Now, the company serves a global customer base with its biomedical, engineering, digital, and other technical services. Some of Leidos’s subsidiaries include Dynetics, Inc., 1901 Group, BEONTRA, and QTC.
Not to be confused with children’s clothing company Oshkosh B’Gosh, Oshkosh Corp. makes specialty trucks and access equipment.
The company began in 1917 as Oshkosh Truck, and its commercial brands now include JLG, Jerr-Dan, Pierce, Oshkosh Airport Products, Frontline Communications, McNeilus, London, and IMT.
The company’s defense division produces tactical vehicles as well as parts and services for those vehicles.
A spin-off from the original SAIC that is now Leidos, this company serves the defense, space, civilian, and intelligence markets.
The vast majority of its business comes from government contracts, as even its civilian customers are government agencies such as NASA, the Department of State, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
SAIC has over 25,000 employees working on the company’s enterprise IT, software, cybersecurity, engineering, integration, logistics, training, and analytics and simulation offerings.
Booz Allen Hamilton is an IT and management company that started in 1914.
One of its most notable and formative achievements took place in 1940. This is when the U.S. government contracted the company to help it quickly double the size of the Navy so that it could run successful campaigns on both the Atlantic and Pacific fronts of WWII.
Now, the company’s defense division creates new technology and solutions to modernize current defense systems and integrate information across the U.S. Armed Forces.
Booz Allen Hamilton also serves intelligence, commercial, health, transportation, energy, law enforcement, and international customers by providing consulting, engineering, cybersecurity, analytics, and digital services and products.
Even though Bechtel works in infrastructure, energy, environmental cleanup, and management, mining and metals, and petrochemicals, its defense, and nuclear security department is the one that contracts with the DOD.
Whether Bechtel is providing secure computer-based operational systems or engineering and maintaining high-security locations such as the U.S. Uranium Processing Facility, its goal is to continually innovate and modernize the U.S. government’s defense capabilities.
Bechtel also works with several U.S. allies to assist them with similar projects.
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