How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry

Photo Source Charles Atkeison | CC BY 2.0

Lockheed-Martin is headquartered in the Bethesda, Maryland. No, the defense titan doesn’t have a bomb-making factory in this toney Beltway suburb. But as the nation’s top weapons contractor, it migrated to DC from southern California because that’s where the money is. And Lockheed rakes it in from the federal treasury at the rate of $65 million every single day of the year.

From nuclear missiles to fighter planes, software code to spy satellites, the Patriot missile to Star Wars, Lockheed has come to dominate the weapons market in a way that the Standard Oil Company used to hold sway over the nation’s petroleum supplies. And it all happened with the help of the federal government, which steered lucrative no bid contracts Lockheed’s way, enacted tax breaks that encouraged Lockheed’s merger and acquisition frenzy in the 1980s and 1990s and turned a blind eye to the company’s criminal rap sheet, ripe with indiscretions ranging from bribery to contract fraud.

Now Lockheed stands almost alone. It not only serves as an agent of US foreign policy, from the Pentagon to the CIA; it also helps shape it. “We are deployed entirely in developing daunting technology,” Lockheed’s new CEO Robert J. Stevens told the New York Times report Tim Weiner. “That requires thinking through the policy dimensions of national security as well as technological dimensions.”

Like many defense industry executives, Stevens is a former…

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