Companies in this industry manufacture guided missiles and related defense systems, along with space vehicles. Major companies include US-based Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK, Raytheon, and Space Exploration Technologies, plus Airbus Group (the Netherlands), Almaz-Antey (Russia), BAE Systems (the UK), China National Precision Machinery, Leonardo - Finmeccanica (Italy), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan), and SAFRAN and Thales (both of France).
Demand for guided missiles depends on government spending on defense. Demand for space vehicles is driven by the need to deliver commercial and noncommercial payloads into Earth orbit or beyond. Large companies enjoy economies of scale in design, manufacturing, and purchasing. Small companies can compete by providing niche products to prime contractors, and by forming joint ventures with larger contractors. The US industry is highly concentrated: the top four companies account for 95% of industry revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
A missile is a self-propelled, guided or unguided vehicle carrying a weapons payload. Missiles are either strategic or conventional. Strategic missiles -- including ballistic and cruise missiles -- are long-range, and may carry nuclear warheads. Ballistic missiles are rocket-propelled; cruise missiles are powered by air-breathing jet engines. Types of missiles include anti-tank, anti-ship, and assault, and may be air-to-surface, surface-to-air, or air-to-air. Missile ranges vary according to type and include: short range ballistic missile (SRBM -- 40 to 600 miles); medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM -- 600 to 1,800 miles); intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM -- 1,800 to 3,400 miles); and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM -- more than 3,400 miles).