May 10, 2004 – Several major weapons manufacturers and military contractors reported higher than expected first quarter profits or increased revenue at the end of April.
Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, and Halliburton were three of the companies that have benefited from recent US military contracts, as more reports of heavy fighting and evidence of torture underline the brutality of the continuing occupation of Iraq.
"I am pleased with the progress the Boeing team made during the quarter to deliver value to customers and shareholders," Boeing President and CEO Harry Stonecipher commented in a company press release. Profits in Boeingâ€™s weapons manufacturing division, (Integrated Defense Systems or IDS) increased 18 percent to $7.4 billion in the first quarter, the company said, due to "double-digit growth in all four of its business segments." Boeing produces so-called "smart-bombs," F-15 fighter planes, and Apache helicopters used by the US military.
Asked if the war against terror was related to the "stellar" first-quarter results achieved by the weapons maker, Northrop-Grumman CEO and President Ronald Sugar told CNBC that the companyâ€™s "strategic positioning" was indeed important.
"The company is right in the area where we want to be in terms of future demand for the kind of systems we provide," Sugar commented on CNBCâ€™s Power Lunch. He added that Northrop-Grumman, which recently won a $10 billion contract to develop the US "missile defense" system, saw each of its business units go "up double digits in sales and very strong profits."
Lockheed-Martin, a manufacturer of fighter aircraft, saw its first-quarter profits increase by 16 percent, in part due to a high demand for weapons.
Aside from receiving billions of dollars through specific government contracts, the high level of public subsidies given to these corporations was also central to their profitability in the first quarter. It is estimated by the Arms Trade Resource Center, for example, that each US taxpayer effectively contributes $105 to Lockheed Martin alone. The above weapons makers in turn regularly contribute millions of dollars to political campaigns.
Among other corporations, Dick Cheneyâ€™s former company, Halliburton, a major beneficiary of construction projects in Iraq and supplier to US military bases, posted a $65 million net loss in the first quarter. However, the companyâ€™s first quarter report nonetheless announced that its revenues had increased by $5.5 billion (or 80 percent) since the same time last year, as a result of its government contracts in Iraq. The net loss was partially attributed to a domestic payout of $141 million to former employees for asbestos-related diseases.