Raytheon Technologies and Industry Trends

Last week two giant war corporations, Raytheon and United Technologies, announced they would merge in early 2020. The new behemoth, to be known as Raytheon Technologies, is expected to have a combined value of over $100 billion in capitalist markets. Recent history provides context to understand today’s war industry and the nature of this merger.

The nineteen-nineties witnessed a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. war industry. Some of the bigger moves were Boeing merging with McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed acquiring Martin Marietta, and Raytheon gobbling up Hughes Aircraft. These moves occurred in parallel to another phenomenon: Home and abroad, the Pentagon effectively doubled down on the corporatization of military functions. Jobs that once were carried out by the troops (e.g. mowing the lawn, serving chow, logistics, eavesdropping on governments, transportation, combat) were increasingly in the private domain, up for grabs to the shrewdest corporation.

The Clinton White House, a country club of neoliberal ideology, was fully onboard. It encouraged the corporatization of the War Department. This aligned well with President Clinton’s other accomplishments in office: attacking sovereign nations (e.g. expanding sanctions against Iran’s oil sector in 1995, and launching industry ordnance at Afghanistan, the Balkans, Iraq, and Sudan); brutalizing the destitute, working poor, and caged (via the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform & Immigrant Responsibility Act, the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act, the 1996 Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunity Act, and the 1994 Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act); and aiding corporate greed (by passing NAFTA and the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act and boosting spending on war). One of Clinton’s most damaging achievements, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, complemented these activities by deregulating the telecoms and allowing cross-ownership in corporate media, clogging the information space with info-tainment and permitting corporate ideology to further dominate our perception of the world around us. Support for neoliberal economic polices, including the corporatization of war, is one of many traits that both parties in the D.C. regime share.

When the dust settled at the end of the 1990s, three beasts hogged about two-thirds of the power in the U.S. war industry: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon. These corporations set out to please shareholders and insatiable Wall Street investment firms. The Pentagon had less leverage over the war industry at this time, because, in part, these three beasts were nearly the only game in town. War corporations soon stepped up their game, influencing Capitol Hill with greater ferocity and creativity. Campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures increased. And more titans of capital cycled from war corporations through the Pentagon’s leadership ranks. The war industry also pursued more foreign military sales, including increased sales to brutal regimes like Mubarak’s Egypt, the House of Saud, and the Zionist Entity known as Israel. Enter 9.11. With Muslims to bomb and Asian countries to occupy, the Department of War acceded to full corporatization.

Why is this history and context so important? Because we’re in a period of new mergers and acquisitions right now: AECOM buying URS in 2014; AMEC buying Foster Wheeler in 2014; PAE acquiring A-T Solutions in 2015; Northrop Grumman buying Orbital ATK in 2017; General Dynamics buying CSRA in 2018; and United Technologies absorbing Rockwell Collins in 2018. Most recently, SAIC purchased the IT powerhouse Engility, Parsons bought the geospatial corporation OGSystems, and Textron bought Howe & Howe Technologies, maker of combat vehicles. Knowing these corporations and their functions is our responsibility in the age of corporate rule.

Two new mergers loom: Harris and L3, and Raytheon and United Technologies. The CEOs of these corporations (William Brown and Chris Kubasik from Harris and L3, and Thomas Kennedy and Greg Hayes from Raytheon and United Technologies) will make millions from these deals.

Together Harris and L3 sell a variety of goods and services, including satellite communications, radios, signals intelligence software, radar, submarine sensors, drone sensors, and aircraft maintenance. Together Raytheon and United Technologies sell everything from missiles and bombs; to avionics, pilots’ helmets, and flight simulators; to radar, targeting systems, and aircraft engines. These new mergers look to cash in on “great power competition,” the push—largely directed by industry PR personnel, think tanks, and allies in corporate media—to frame China and Russia as threats to the U.S. citizenry. Cyber software, nuclear weaponry, and hypersonic propulsion systems are sectors through which the war industry already profits while citing great power competition.

Consolidation is not the only trend happening in the industry right now. The working class needs to beware of the other trends. The first trend is a renewed focus to allocate manufacturing plants in congressional districts around the country so corporate executives can play the “jobs” card with corrupt politicians. The second trend is more effective military propaganda (which, notably, is carried out by corporations, like GSD&M) recruiting the country’s youth into military uniform and further militarizing U.S. society. The third trend is incessant neoliberal economic polices decimating the masses’ job opportunities, driving young workers into the Armed Forces as a means of paying off loans, student debt, or making ends meet. The fourth trend is increased pollution of our only planet. Using corporate goods and services, the U.S. Department of War is the single greatest polluter on Earth (carbon emissions, particulates, Superfund sites, and radioactivity included). And, lastly, targeted expenditures on lobbying and congressional campaigns persuade Capitol Hill to continue the wars. These trends culminate in an increasingly precarious economic situation for anyone not sitting comfortably within the upper class.

The racket of war will only end through education and concrete policy changes. The first major changes, of many, will be revoking corporate personhood and prohibiting war profiteering. Unfortunately, the D.C. regime, captured as it is by the war industry, will not carry out these reforms. Only a mass groundswell will. An independent, environmental, intersectional mobilization of the working class will do the trick.

Christian Sorensen is a novelist and independent journalist. His work focuses on the U.S. war industry. Read other articles by Christian, or visit Christian's website.