Top 10 Weapons Manufacturers

With over 1 trillion dollars spent on military programs worldwide every year, weapon manufacturing business is not for the light-hearted. In 2008 alone, 100 biggest arms dealers had sales of 385 billion dollars, which is three times the size of the total development aid of OECD countries. To put things in an even better perspective, take it this way: the sales of the top weapons manufacturer in 2008 were greater than the gross domestic product of 105 countries.

Today, we present to you the top 10 merchants of death, err…weapon manufacturers.

No 10. Thales Group – France

Arm sales in 2008 $10.76 billion
Founded 2000
Employees 68,000+

With 63% of its total sales being military sales, Thales group is 10th largest defence contractor and the 485th largest company in the world. It is named after the greek philosopher Thames. The company generated over 12 billion Euros in revenue in 2009. Its headquarters is situated in Neuilly-sur-Seine in France.

Its major shareholders are the French state (27.0%) and Dassault Aviation (25.9%).

No 9. L-3 Communications – USA

Arms sales in 2008 $12.16 billion
Founded 1997
Employees 64,000

L-3 was formed by the merger of 10 former Lockheed Corporation units, which it was not interested in owning during the merging with Martin Marietta.

The name L-3 comes from Frank Lanza, Robert LaPenta, and Lehman Brothers.

L-3’s customers include Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Government intelligence agencies, NASA, aerospace contractors and commercial telecommunicationsand wireless customers.

L-3 posted a revenue of $15.6 billion in 2009.

A rather negative video on L-3:



No 8. Finmeccanica – Italy

Arms sales in 2008 $13.02 billion
Founded 1948
Employees 73,000+

The largest hi-tech industrial group based in Italy, Finmeccanica is spread in over 100 countries around the globe. Its headquarters is in Rome.

Finmeccanica is 30% owned by the Italian government and it had a revenue of over 18 billion Euros in 2009.

No 7. EADS – Pan-European

Arms sales in 2008 $17.9 billion
Founded 2000
Employees 120,000

EADS develops and markets civil and military aircraft, as well as communications systems, missiles, space rockets, satellites, and related systems. Its headquarters is in Leiden, Netherlands.

Here is a video of their Eurofighter Typhoon:



No 6. Raytheon – USA

Arms sales in 2008 $21.03  billion
Founded 1922
Employees 75,000

Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles and is the 4th largest defence contractor in the world (in terms of revenue). Its headquarters is located in Waltham, Massachusetts. It posted a revenue of approximately 25 billion US dollars in 2009.

No 5. General Dynamics – USA

Arms sales in 2008 $22.72 billion
Founded 1952
Employees 91,200

General Dynamics has 4 kinds of business segments: Marine Systems, Combat Systems, Information Systems and Technology, and Aerospace. The company supplies all types of armored vehicles including the M1 Abrams, LAV 25 and Stryker.

General dynamics’ former Fort Worth Division manufactured the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which is the most-produced Western fighter jet.



No 4. Northrop Grumman – USA

Arms sales in 2008 $26.09 billion
Founded 1927
Employees 120,000

The Northrop Grumman is the largest builder of naval vessels in the world. It is ranked at number 61 in the 2010 Fortune 500 list of US industrial companies.

The company also manufactures Aircraft carriers, Military aircraft, Military vessels and Missile defense systems.

The B-2 Spirit and BQM-74 Chukar unmanned aerial drone are also made by Northrop Grumman.

No 3. Boeing – USA

Arms sales in 2008 $29.2 billion
Founded 1916
Employees 160,000

The 3rd largest arms manufacturer, Boeing also happens to be the oldest and the biggest employer of all and they seem to have the best company profile video of the lot 😉

Everyone is well aware of Boeings aerospace endeavors but very few are exposed to its darker side (no offence). Boeing is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world with a revenue of over $60 billion in 2008.



No 2. Lockheed Martin – USA

Arms sales in 2008 $29.88 billion
Founded 1995
Employees 140,000

Makers of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest fighter comes in at number 2. About 70% of Lockheed martin’s revenue comes from military sales. Its revenue in 2009 was $45 billion.

Lockheed martin’s products include Ballistic missiles, Munitions, Transport aircraft, Fighter aircraft and Radars among others.

No 1. BAE Systems – UK

Arms sales in 2008 $32.42 billion
Founded 1999
Employees 107,000

BAE systems from UK, the biggest arms manufacturer in the world, generates over 95% of its revenue from arms sales. It was formed by the £7.7 billion merger of two British companies, Marconi Electronic Systems, the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc, and aircraft, munitions and naval systems manufacturer British Aerospace.

Its products include Land warfare systems, Munitions, Naval vessels and Defence electronics.

BAE systems is also responsible for the astute class submarine of the Royal Navy.

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