How Lockheed Martin Has Made a Killing Off Our Perpetual Wars

News & Politics

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has taken advantage of America’s wars to make absurd profits. The company made $47.2 billion last year. To put this figure into perspective, $47.2 billion is 172 percent of Yemen’s gross domestic product in 2016; more than the U.S. government spends annually on energy and the environment; and 1,000 times as much as Lockheed spent to settle allegations of lobbying with taxpayer funds in August 2015.

As the largest arms dealer in the world, Lockheed, it’s safe to say, is profiting off the United States’—and the world’s—perpetual state of war.

Money Pit Planes

Cost overruns, development and production delays, and extremely high prices are all part of Lockheed’s business model. Take the fiasco of the F-22 and F-35 jet fighter planes.

The F-22 planes, which cost the U.S. Air Force $412 million each, were supposed to be the best fighter planes in the world, characterized by their stealth, agility and precision. Lockheed executives described the planes as “an icon of American power.” But the F-22 planes have never seen combat because of irredeemable flaws in design that may have led to the death of Air Force Captain Jeff Haney.

Eclipsing the staggering failure of the F-22, the F-35 promises to waste $1.4 trillion of American taxpayer funds. The cost of each plane has soared by more than 50 percent above original projects; the program is years behind schedule. Thus far, the F-35 has consistently failed to meet minimum performance standards and was recently out-performed by an F-16 during a test. Defense spending analyst Winslow Wheeler concluded that the F-35 is “flawed beyond redemption.”

Who profits from this colossal waste of money? Lockheed: the F-35 fighter is its most profitable program, generating more than half of all sales from its aeronautics division in 2015 and stimulating a 5 percent rise in 2017 second-quarter profits.

Management Is a Costly Mess

In addition to these trillion-dollar national disasters, Lockheed’s management is deeply problematic. According to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, Lockheed has had 84 instances of contractor misconducts since 1985, making it number one on the list of errant federal contractors.

Lockheed’s contractor misconducts are impressive in their breadth, ranging from overbilling and fraudulent lease cost claims to whistleblower retaliation and racial discrimination.

Ironically, Lockheed prides itself on its commitment to ethics, requiring ethics awareness training for all of its employees.

But America Pays It Anyway

Despite Lockheed’s monumental misconducts, the corporation is firmly entrenched within the U.S government.

Eighty percent of Lockheed’s 2015 profit came from the U.S government. Since 1989, the company has received 31 grants and 15,358 contracts from the federal government. Lockheed is contracted by more than two-dozen government agencies, from the Department of Defense to the Environmental Protection Agency. It engages in surveillance and information processing for the CIA, FBI, IRS, NSA, the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service. It hires interrogators for U.S. overseas prisons including Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Every Aspect of U.S. Government and American Life

Lockheed’s lobbying capabilities are omnipotent. The company spends around $13 million each year on lobbying.

Recent bills that favor Lockheed by further extending the military budget include the Electronic Warfare Capabilities Enhancement Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. At the very least, Lockheed’s lobbying efforts are undiscriminating; it gave millions of dollars to both Democrat and Republican congressional candidates.

Under the Trump Administration, Lockheed Is Poised to Profit Even More 

President Trump’s call for a $54 billion increase in defense spending will only further augment Lockheed’s profits; the money would accelerate planned acquisitions of the F-35 fighters and THAAD missile systems.

Lockheed’s profits are blood money. Lockheed’s values include preschool maxims like “do what’s right” and “respect others,” and its annual report boasts it is “proud to stand with our international partners to enhance their capabilities to protect the lives of citizens and build a brighter future.”

Yet the corporation has no qualms about war profiteering. Its arms sales constituted 78 percent of its total sales in 2014. It sells weapons to the repressive Saudi regime, which indiscriminately kills thousands of Yemeni civilians.

Lockheed is not building a brighter future; it is destroying any prospect of a peaceful one.

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