It’s Oscars season! That time of year when the DLR sits down with a bowl of popcorn and makes acerbic comments about the dresses on parade. Or gets all giddy over best supporting actresses. Or somesuch.
So, we hereby present our own Oscars, but with a twist. This award ceremony is not for those working in the creative arts, but those working in the destructive arts. For we base our awards ceremony on Defense News’ top 100 defence companies.
Now, this data is a little out of date: it was issued in July 2011 (remain on tenterhooks for the update in summer, folks!). But it’s still an eye-opening and rarely regarded list of merchants of death the world over.
So, let’s start with the minors: the award for Most Surprising Company in the Top 100 Defence Companies goes to….(drumroll)……(golden envelope opening)…..Hewlett-Packard! Yes, the US tech company made USD971 million in 2010 from defence contracts and came in 65th place on the list, despite defence only making up less than 1% of its revenues. A good showing from HP there, seeing off competition from Deloitte (90th place: USD657 million), Mitsubishi (26th place: USD3.03 billion), General Electrics (19th place: USD4.1 billion) and Rolls Royce (18th place: USD4.48 billion).
Crashing on, the award for Most Shambolic Company to Make It into the Top 100 goes to…..(this one’s one of our favourites)….Hindustan Aeronautics! Well done HAL, lead contractor of the massively delayed Tejas aircraft (first planned to be in service by 1995; actually going to be in service by late 2012) and Dhruv helicopter (first flew in 1992; only entered service in 2002; still unsuitable for naval operations despite the original plan). Still, despite these delays and SNAFUs, HAL managed to come a respectable 37th in the list with USD2.27 billion.
One for the homecrowd here: Most Lucrative UK-based Company. Well, we all have an idea of which entity’s going to win this, but let’s open the envelope and find out. Yes, as expected, it’s BAE Systems! Coming in second overall, with USD33.1 billion, BAE is really powering ahead of the other European competition there.
One for the lefty liberal Hollywood types now: Least Ethical Defence Company. Some really strong competition for this one. Any company from France has got to be up there: they sell guns to anyone. And let’s not forget BAE Systems – bribing Saudis (probably), selling Hawk jets to Suharto’s Indonesia to use in East Timor. Gosh, this is exciting. And the winner is…….DCNS! Oh, well done the French. Such strong performers in this category. DCNS (24th place; USD3.3 billion) has done so well in particular, with its (alleged) involvement in the bribery of Taiwanese officials in the 1990s for the La Fayette deal (a deal that saw the murder of at least one Taiwanese naval captain and potential whistleblower) and the (alleged) bribery of a close associate of Malaysia’s now prime minister, who also had his bodyguards implicated in the murder of a Mongolian translator that helped with the submarine contract. Let’s not forget Thales’ (11th place; USD9.96 billion) involvement in the Taiwan scandal, but well done, DCNS.
And finally, the big one. Most Revenue-Generating Defence Company in the World. I’m sure there will be tears and joy when this one’s announced. And the winner is…..Lockheed Martin! With a revenue in 2010 of USD42.8 billion, that will take some beating next year. It spanked Northrop Grumman (USD31.18 billion), Boeing (USD30.86 billon), General Dynamics (USD26.6 billion) and Raytheon (USD23.42 billion). It’s still heartening to see those billions of dollars go to those hard-working men and women producing guns, bombs and other items that tear human beings to pieces with white-hot shrapnel. And it goes to show, even in the increasingly multipolar world in which we live, there’s still only one dominant country out there in the world of defence.
USA! USA! USA!