Despite problems with its state defense order and defense-industrial complex, Russia clearly has world-class defense producers. This is apparent not just from their arms exports, but it’s also evident in their defense-related revenue.
Eight Russian companies just made the Defense News list of the Top 100 defense corporations worldwide. They are Almaz-Antey, Helicopters of Russia, Sukhoy, Irkut, United Engine-building, Tactical Missiles, KB Instrument-building, and RTI Sistemy.
With 2010 defense revenue of nearly $4 billion, Almaz-Antey has appeared in the list since 2005 (Antey appeared alone prior to that). Yet its revenue’s only about half that of Thales, a fourth of EADS, perhaps reflecting that those companies are more diversified in their defense and non-defense business.
Helicopters of Russia vaulted into the middle of the Top 100 list with 2010 defense revenue of nearly $2 billion (a gain of 134.1% over 2009). Consolidation of its helo design and manufacturing capabilities seems to have put Russia on the map (or at least on the Top 100). Still, Helicopters of Russia has about half the defense revenue of Textron, and half as much diversification in its business. The difference is more pronounced when comparing to United Technologies.
Sukhoy and Irkut need no introduction, but it’s a little surprising that their defense revenue was lower than Helicopters of Russia.
United Engine-building (ODK) is an interesting case. Not huge defense revenue, but more diversified than other Russian corporations in the Top 100.
A number of Russian companies have fallen out of the Top 100 over the years. They include submarine and shipbuilders Sevmash, Admiralty Wharves, and Northern Wharf (the United Shipbuilding Corporation — OSK – hasn’t appeared in their place), RSK MiG, Uralvagonzavod, and Aerospace Equipment. It’s hard to say why they’ve fallen off; it could be their financial reporting — still sketchy at times — has made it hard to evaluate their revenue claims.
Still, eight Russian companies in the Top 100 is a long way from 1999 when only Rosvooruzheniye (remember it?) made the list.
The Russian firms in the Top 100 are strong weapons and military equipment exporters, but the lesson for them from abroad seems to be that greater diversification and more civilian business makes a defense company more profitable.