In this article we are going to list the 15 largest defence companies in the world. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 largest defence companies in the world.
The defence industry is perhaps one of the biggest industries in the world, and is expected to be worth more than $1,600 billion by 2025. Surprisingly, the defence industry is not a very old industry; as an industry, you can track its inception to post World War II. During WWII and even before, manufacturers of cars or buses had to convert their factories into producing arms and ammunition to ensure the steady supply of weapons and defence material to ensure the superiority of their nation in any conflict. However, once the war ended, these countries started organizing their own defence industries, ensuring that they would not have to rely on the conversion of existing industries for their defense supply.
It was the Cold War and the impending threat of a major attack at any point that ensured the defence industry flourished and became quite sizable, with various defence companies growing signifcantly in size. However, once the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall fell, the human race became much more peaceful and defence spending actually decreased by a third from 1989 to 1996. Rather than stock up on traditional bulky weapons, money was instead focused on innovation and the development of new arsenal with joint ventures and mergers becoming very common amongst defence companies to pony up the capital required for such a capital intensive industry. In fact, many of the companies who were in the top 100 in 1990 entirely left the industry by the start of the 21st century, and mergers helped the remaining companies grow in size and stature, ready to combat any threat, though most wars by this period were fought regionally.
Enter 9/11. If there was a single incident which has completely changed the outlook of nations across the world, then the first thing that comes to mind is 9/11, where terrorists hijacked four planes, destroying the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon while a fourth plane crashed into a field after passengers fought back, killing all on board. When all was said and done, 2,977 people had died, tens of thousands more suffered injuries, many of which were long lasting and causes over $10 billion in damages. This is still the worst terrorist attack in history and shifted the focus from nations fighting to fighting terrorists, and resulted in the US launching the War on Terror, which in turn has seen the collective displacement of around 37 million people in total, and has caused more deaths of civilians in other countries than terrorists.
Of course, that is not to say that all countries live harmoniously and peacefully now, and many regional conflicts are still ongoing. After all, Pakistan and India, bitter rivals since their separation nearly went to war in 2019 when Indian jets invaded Pakistani airspace and at least one was shot down and the pilot captured by Pakistan. Tensions between North Korea and South Korea remain extremely high, while the Middle East, and Israel’s relations with Arab countries, remain a source of uncertainty even after historic peace agreements with UAE and Bahrain. Because of these conflicts, many countries spend a lot on their defence, with America leading the charge as the most powerful military by far in the entire world, more of which you can learn about in the 10 most powerful militaries in the world in 2020. The US alone spends more on defence than the remaining top 10 combined.
The top defence companies in the world have a combined revenue in 2019 exceeding $319 billion, registering a strong 6% growth over 2018. As we mentioned earlier, the US spends a lot more in defence than any other country in the world, which is why the entire top 5 is dominated by American companies, and the top 15 has 6 American countries, and China is the second highest defence spending company in the world, and hence, logic dictates it hold the second highest number of companies in this list, and that logic does hold true, with 4 Chinese companies present in the list. The remaining companies are from Europe. Most of the companies in the list have revenues from other sources apart from defence too, though to ensure that our list is accurate, we have only compared revenues from defence for these companies. To come up with our rankings, we have considered their revenue for 2019 and 2018 as well, though we have assigned 70% weightage to the former as it is the most recent and hence, most relevant number. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the companies spending the most on defence, thereby helping their country’s offense, starting with number 15:
15. China South Industries Group Corporation
Total revenue in 2019 (in billions of dollars): 10,149
Total revenue in 2018 (in billions of dollars): 10,276
Founded 21 years ago in 1999, China South Industries Group Corporation engages in the production of firearms, artillery, radar, combat vehicles and commercial vehicles, and employs over 172,000.