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Aerospace and defense (A&D) companies build aircraft, ships, spacecraft, weapon systems, and defense equipment. LIST OF BEST AEROSPACE & DEFENSE COMPANIES IN THE WORLD. They sell their products and supporting services and sustainment programs to both governments and private companies, but government customers’ requirements generally drive product development priorities. Many of these companies are state owned or state influenced to some degree, and some have grown out of public-private partnerships or government functions that have been privatized.

This discussion is primarily focused on A&D companies that make military and security equipment. Many of the same developmental challenges also apply to commercial aviation and space companies, which may face even greater challenges due to lack of government co-investment. However, this overview is focused on companies that support governments.

A&D companies build systems of immense complexity and risk, commonly working with untested, next-generation technology that they must mature during the product development cycle. They also frequently build systems for very specific customers (often as few as one), as opposed to making generally useful products for many customers in larger markets. In many cases, the system complexity and development risk is so extreme and uncertain that a responsible CEO would never build the system without customer co-investment, for risk of bankrupting the company. This is the genesis of cost-reimbursable contracts (cost-plus) and other risk-sharing government contract vehicles, which the public sector sometimes uses to encourage A&D companies to invent and build new products.



Airbus SE  is a European multinational aerospace corporation. Airbus designs, manufactures and sells commercial aircraft and has separate Defence and Space and Helicopters divisions. As of 2019, Airbus is the world’s largest manufacturer of airliners as well as the leading helicopter manufacturer.

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The company was founded in 1970 as a collaboration of European aerospace companies to develop and produce a wide-body aircraft to compete with American-built airliners, which would later merge together. Reflecting this multi-national origin, the company operates major offices and assembly plants in FranceGermanySpain, and the United Kingdom, along with more recent additions in CanadaChina, and the United States.

Airbus’s registered headquarters is in Leiden, Netherlands, but its head office is located in Toulouse, France. The ‘SE’ in its corporate name means it is a societas Europaea, which enables it to be registered as a European rather than a national corporation. Its shares are traded in France, Germany, and Spain. The company is led by CEO Guillaume Faury and is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index.

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The company delivered its 12,000th aircraft in May 2019. In 2016, the company estimated that its fleet had performed more than 110 million flights, totalling over 215 billion kilometres and carrying 12 billion passengers.

B/E Aerospace

B/E Aerospace, Inc. was a manufacturer of aircraft passenger cabin interior products for the commercial and business jet aircraft markets. B/E Aerospace had leading worldwide market shares in all of its major product lines and served virtually all of the world’s airlines, aircraft manufacturers and leasing companies through its direct global sales and customer support organizations. Based in Wellington, Florida, the company was capitalized as a $4.2 billion corporation as of January 2016.


In December 2014, B/E announced that it had completed the spin-off of its aerospace fasteners and consumables business, creating KLX, Inc. (Nasdaq: KLXI). In December 2017, KLX split “Energy Services Group” , which now functions as KLX Energy with original KLX Aerospace business acquired by Boeing.

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In April 2017, it was purchased by Rockwell Collins, which has since become a part of Collins Aerospace, a business of United Technologies Corporation (UTC), November 2018. In April 2020, UTC and Raytheon merged to form Raytheon Technologies (RTX).

Babcock International

Babcock International Group plc is a British aerospace, defence and nuclear engineering services company based in London, England. It specialises in managing complex assets and infrastructure. Although the company has civil contracts, its main business is with public bodies, particularly the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence and Network Rail. The company has four operating sectors, with overseas operations based in Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia.


Babcock is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems plc (BAE) is a British multinational armssecurity, and aerospace company based in London, England. It is the largest defence contractor in Europe, and ranked the seventh-largest in the world based on applicable 2021 revenues. As of 2017, it is the biggest manufacturer in Britain. Its largest operations are in the United Kingdom and United States, where its BAE Systems Inc. subsidiary is one of the six largest suppliers to the US Department of Defense. Other major markets include Australia, Canada, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Oman and Sweden, where Saudi Arabia is regularly among its top three sources of revenue. The company was formed on 30 November 1999 by the £7.7 billion purchase of and merger with Marconi Electronic Systems (MES), the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc (GEC), by British Aerospace, an aircraft, munitions and naval systems manufacturer.


BAE is the successor to various aircraft, shipbuilding, armoured vehicle, armaments and defence electronics companies. These include The Marconi Company, the first commercial company devoted to the development and use of radio; A.V. Roe and Company, one of the world’s first aircraft companies; de Havilland, manufacturer of the Comet, the world’s first commercial jet airliner; Hawker Siddeley, manufacturer of the Harrier, the world’s first VTOL attack aircraft; British Aircraft Corporation, co-manufacturer of the Concorde supersonic transport; Supermarine, manufacturer of the SpitfireYarrow Shipbuilders, builder of the Royal Navy‘s first destroyersFairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, builder of the world’s first battlecruiser; and Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, builder of the Royal Navy’s first submarines.

Since its formation in 1999, BAE has made a number of acquisitions, most notably of United Defense and Armor Holdings of the United States, and sold its shares in AirbusAstriumAMS and Atlas Elektronik. It is involved in several major defence projects, including the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Astute-class submarine, and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. BAE Systems is listed on the London Stock Exchange‘s FTSE 100 Index.


The Boeing Company  is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanesrotorcraftrocketssatellitestelecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product support services. Boeing is among the largest global aerospace manufacturers; it is the third-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2020 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value. Boeing’s stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.


Boeing was founded by William Boeing in SeattleWashington, on July 15, 1916. The present corporation is the result of the merger of Boeing with McDonnell Douglas on August 1, 1997. Then–chairman and CEO of Boeing, Philip M. Condit, assumed those roles in the combined company, while Harry Stonecipher, former CEO of McDonnell Douglas, became president and COO.

As of 2023, the Boeing Company’s corporate headquarters is located in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia. The company is organized into four primary divisions: Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA); Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS); Boeing Global Services; and Boeing Capital. In 2021, Boeing recorded $62.3 billion in sales. Boeing is ranked 54th on the Fortune magazine “Fortune 500” list (2020), and ranked 121st on the “Fortune Global 500” list (2020).

In 2019, Boeing’s global reputation, commercial business, and financial rating suffered after the 737 MAX fleet was grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes in late 2018 and early 2019.

Bombardier Inc.

Bombardier Inc.  is a Canadian business jet manufacturer. Headquartered in Montreal, the company was founded in 1942 by Joseph-Armand Bombardier to market his snowmobiles and became one of the world’s biggest producers of aircraft and trains.


In the 1970s and 1980s, the company diversified into public transport vehicles and commercial jets and became a multinational corporation. However, the launch of the CSeries aircraft sent the company into deep debt, pushing it to the brink of bankruptcy by 2015. As a result, the company sold nearly all of its operations except business jet manufacturing.

Bombardier manufactures several series of corporate jets: Global 7500Global ExpressChallenger 650 and Challenger 3500.


Embraer S.A.  is a Brazilian multinationalaerospace manufacturer that produces commercial, military, executive and agricultural aircraft, and provides aeronautical services.


It was founded in 1969 in São José dos CamposSão Paulo, where its headquarters are located. The company is the third largest producer of civil aircraft, after Boeing and Airbus.

Leonardo S.p.A.

Leonardo S.p.A., formerly Leonardo-Finmeccanica and originally Finmeccanica, is an Italian multinational company specialising in aerospacedefence and security. Headquartered in Rome, Italy, the company has 180 sites worldwide. It is the eighth largest defence contractor in the world based on 2018 revenues. The company is partially owned by the Italian government, which holds 30.2% of the company’s shares and is its largest shareholder.


On 1 January 2016, Leonardo-Finmeccanica became a single industrial company by integrating the activities of its subsidiaries AgustaWestlandAlenia AermacchiDRS TechnologiesSelex ESOto Melara and WASS. The company is organised into five divisions (Helicopters, Aircraft, Aerostructures, Electronics, Cybersecurity). It is also the parent company and corporate centre for the subsidiaries and joint ventures TelespazioThales Alenia SpaceMBDA and ATR. Leonardo is listed on the Borsa Italiana and is a constituent of the FTSE MIB and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. As of April 2016, the company was known by the transitional name of Leonardo-Finmeccanica as part of the restructuring process of the company carried out by CEO Mauro Moretti from the beginning of his mandate in 2014. The company changed its name to Leonardo S.p.A. on 1 January 2017, after the Italian inventor Leonardo da Vinci

General Dynamics

General Dynamics Corporation (GD) is an American publicly traded aerospace and defense corporation headquartered in Reston, Virginia. As of 2020, it was the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world by arms sales, and fifth largest in the United States by total sales. The company is a Fortune 100 company, and was ranked No. 94 in 2022.


Formed in 1954 with the merger of submarine manufacturer Electric Boat and aircraft manufacturer Canadair, the corporation today consists of ten subsidiary companies with operations in 45 countries. The company’s products include Gulfstream business jets, Virginia- and Columbia-class nuclear-powered submarines, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, M1 Abrams tanks and Stryker armored fighting vehicles.

In 2022, General Dynamics had worldwide sales of $39.4 billion and a workforce of approximately 106,500 full-time employees. The current chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) is Phebe Novakovic.

Rolls-Royce Holdings

Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is a British multinational aerospace and defence company incorporated in February 2011. The company owns Rolls-Royce, a business established in 1904 which today designs, manufactures and distributes power systems for aviation and other industries. Rolls-Royce is the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines (after General Electric) and has major businesses in the marine propulsion and energy sectors.


Rolls-Royce was the world’s 16th largest defence contractor in 2018 when measured by defence revenues.

Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange, where it is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. At the close of London trading on 28 August 2019, the company had a market capitalisation of £4.656bn, the 85th-largest of any company with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange.

The company’s registered office is at Kings Place, near Kings Cross in London.

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