President Bush’s military budget increase and the war time “unity” on Capitol Hill have created an environment in which weapons makers can enjoy the best of both worlds—continuing to make money on the weapons systems of the cold war while reaping the benefits of a war time bonanza of new defense contracts.
In order to replace weapons used in Afghanistan and in preparation for possible military action in Iraq, many U.S. weapons makers have increased production. Boeing added a second shift of workers to boost production of its Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs)—the most widely used smart bomb in the Afghan war. Raytheon, best known for its Tomahawk missile, added a third shift and announced that production for its laser-guided bomb has been accelerated by five months “to support the warfighter in the war on terrorism.” Alliant Techsystems, the largest supplier of ammunition to the U.S. military, was awarded a $92 million contract to make 265 million rounds of small-caliber ammunition for the Army.
Additionally, with the new influx of money for homeland defense ($38 billion for FY 2003), virtually all of the big defense contractors—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon—have adapted their marketing strategies and are repackaging their products for use in domestic security. Boeing is looking into how its sensors designed to track enemy missiles could be used to locate and identify hijacked planes. Lockheed is trying to adapt military simulators to train local emergency response teams. And Raytheon is pitching its hand-held thermal-imaging devices, designed for the military, as useful for fire fighters searching through collapsed buildings.