The top 9 biggest defense contractors in America

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Lockheed Martin

As a general in World War II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower intimately knew how to lead and manage the armed forces. After years of public service, he prepared to leave his position as the Commander in Chief with a final farewell address to the nation.

In this farewell address, he outlined the dangers of what he coined as the “military industrial complex.”

Although Eisenhower could have been unwavering in his argument, one cannot deny the amazing advancements, or the destructive power, that military R&D has created. Military research and development has now paved the way for medical achievements and other inventions that have reshaped the world.

The following figures from 2015 were compiled by the US General Services Administration and are publicly available.


1. Lockheed Martin Corporation

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A THAAD missile system being fired.
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Missile Defense Agency

Amount obligated: $29.4 billion

Contracts awarded:66,353

Employees:126,000

Current work:$528 million project for interceptors in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense-contract. The purpose of the THAAD system is for protection from short to medium-range ballistic missile attacks. Lockheed Martin has also been at the forefront of designing other military projects, most notably, the F-35 Lightning II.


2. The Boeing Company

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An EA-18G Growlers of Electronic Attack Squadron 137 (VAQ-137) takes off onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) aircraft carrier in the Gulf.
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Thomson Reuters

Amount obligated: $14.6 billion

Contracts awarded:12,645

Employees: 148,750

Current work: $897.5 million for additional EA-18Gs and associated airborne electronic attack kits. The “Growler” is supposed to provide tactical jamming and electronic protection for military personnel.


3. Raytheon Company

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US Marines firing the Excalibur.
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Raytheon

Amount obligated: $12.3 billion

Contracts awarded:10,000

Employees: 61,000

Current work: $31.8 million contract for 464 Excalibur extended-range precision projectiles. Using its GPS capabilities, the Excalibur is considered to be the longest-range, most precise, cannon-fired projectile in the world.


4. General Dynamics Corporation

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A DDG 51 Class Destroyer.
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Thomson Reuters

Amount obligated: $11.8 billion

Contracts awarded:20,822

Employees: 99,500

Current work: $644.3 million for constructing an additional DDG 51 Class Destroyer for the US Navy. The all-steel, gas turbine ship is equipped with the AEGIS combat system, Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, two embarked SH-60 helicopters, advanced anti-aircraft missiles, and Tomahawk anti-ship and land-attack missiles.


5. Northrop Grumman Corporation

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A depiction of the controversial Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B).
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Popular Science

Amount obligated: $9.5 billion

Contracts awarded: 10,397

Employees: 65,000

Current work: The $55 billion controversial and highly classified Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) project was designed to replace the Air Force’s aging fleets of bombers. The LRS-B would be able to deliver its nuclear payload while using its signature stealth technology.


6. United Technologies Corporation

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Over an Atlantic test range, a test pilot flies the F-35 with external weapons pylons for the first time.
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Flickr/Lockheed Martin

Amount obligated: $6.6 billion

Contracts awarded: 24,626

Employees:197,200

Current work:$1.04 billion contract for an additional batch of F-35 fighter jet engines. Although the jet engines were plagued with issues, Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of UTC, stated that their reliability rate was now at 90 percent. This multi-role fighter jet has been claimed by many military officials to be the best candidate for air-to-ground strike missions.


7. L-3 Communications

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The view from an EOTech optical sight.
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Wikimedia Commons

Amount obligated: $5 billion

Contracts awarded: 7,622

Employees: 38,000

Current work: Since 2001, the Pentagon had awarded $24 million to EOTech, a subsidiary of L-3, for the purchase of their holographic optical sights. The sights have since been deemed defective due to their inability to perform optimally in extreme temperatures. Further, claims have been made that EOTech had waited to disclose the defect until 2013. L-3 Communications has since settled the case for $25.6 million.


8. BAE Systems

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The M109A7 self-propelled howitzer firing.
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BAE Systems

Amount obligated: $4.2 billion

Contracts awarded: 10,133

Employees: 83,400

Current work:$245.3 million project for the initial production of the M109A7 self-propelled howitzer and M992A3 ammunition carrier for the US Army. The M109A7 upgrades the previous Paladin howitzer with a new chassis, and includes a high-voltage gun drive and a projectile ramming system.


9. Humana Inc.

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Humana Inc.

Amount obligated: $3.5 billion

Contracts awarded: 206

Employees: 52,000

Current work: This Fortune 500 health insurance company provides healthcare services to servicemembers and veterans as part of the DoD’s TRICARE program. Aetna, one of the largest health insurers has since agreed to acquire Humana for $37 billion. The acquisition is pending federal approval.