If ever there was a sign of the military industrial complex in America, this graph is it.
Reports that the United States is very near to launching an attack against Syria to punish Damascus for the use of chemical weapons sent Raytheon’s stock price to a 52-week high this week.
Who is Raytheon? The manufacturer of the BGM-109, more commonly known as the Tomahawk missile, the weapon of choice of the Obama administration in any strike against Syria.
Raytheon stock has surged over the past two months, coinciding with the biggest U.S. military build-up America has mounted since it launched an assault against Libya in 2011.
Raytheon is a Cambridge, Mass.,-based American defense contractor with total employment of 72,400 people. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of guided missiles and produces such widely used weapons as the AIM-7 Sparrow missile, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile and the BGM-109 Tomahawk. The company is also responsible for the Air Warfare Simulation program used by the Air Force. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2010, the company had nearly $23 billion in arms sales, more than 90% of its total revenue for the year.
Read more on Syria: Obama Officially Pins the Blame Of Chemical Weapons Attack On Assad
The Pentagon buys 196 Tomahawk missiles a year, considered the “minimum sustaining rate” for the U.S. military’s arsenal. And there are some key members of Congress who think more should be spent on these weapons.
“There are many of us who have been concerned for years about maintaining our missile capabilities,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, to Politico.
Raytheon has delivered 252 missiles this fiscal year and 361 last fiscal year. War with Syria means that there would likely be a future increase in orders for the missiles, which can go for about $1 million a pop. In the 2011 U.S. military adventure into Libya, 124 Tomahawk missiles were fired by U.S. and UK ships against Libyan targets. The Libya campaign would give a comparable bar on how many Tomahawk missiles will be used in a Syrian campaign.
Supply and demand, baby.
The BGM-109 has been used in each of America’s official conflicts in the last 22 years. Using wings and a flight system, cruise missiles like the Tomahawk are designed to carry a heavy warhead at subsonic speeds over a significant distance. Originally developed by General Dynamics in the 70s, the 3,500 lb. 20 foot long Tomahawk missile is now manufactured by Raytheon, a large U.S. defense contractor. Each unit can cost anywhere from the mid-$500,000s to almost $1.5 million, depending on the chosen configuration, payload, and booster deployment. The missile’s modular system allows it to carry a conventional or nuclear payload if needed.