The war in Ukraine has sparked a global hunger for weapons that is likely to play out over years. In some cases, the war is pushing countries to turn to off-the-shelf systems rather than wait for programs already in development. As a result, this new wave of spending is likely to have major ramifications for the global defense industry in the coming years.
Jim Taiclet, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, put it this way in a recent earnings call: “The clutch isn’t engaged yet.”
“It’s going to take two to three years,” he told analysts. “That’s for our allies as well because they not only have to go through their own processes internally, they then have to go through generally the [U.S.] Foreign Military Sales process.”
Indeed, these kinds of changes are slower to emerge when it comes to company revenue, and that may be why much of this year’s Defense News Top 100 list looks similar to last year. (Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies and Boeing predictably take the top spots.)
That said, there are some notable changes. Peraton, which made several major acquisitions, has jumped nearly 75 slots to join Leidos, Amentum and Booz Allen Hamilton as the largest U.S. government services contractors.
KBR, which is 32nd, also jumped up the list, while Ukrainian conglomerate Ukroboronprom surged eight spots.
Of course, the list doesn’t capture everything. Only one Russian company participated this year, giving us limited insight into the country’s defense industry. We rely on analysts to provide the data for Chinese companies.
And some of the major players in technology, from Amazon to Google, provide only limited windows into their defense work, meaning we can’t include them on the list because we don’t have a clear understanding of the scope of their defense work.
It’s a reminder that this list isn’t perfect, but what we hope it provides is a meaningful view of the industry and how it changes — or doesn’t — from year to year. It can show trends in sales, acquisitions and geopolitics. And this year’s list does that.
It’s a snapshot that we hope will serve as a useful tool for readers.