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Top100 Defence Companies and the European Industrial Base: Leonardo behind the EU wheel

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Written by Annalisa Guarise

Last August, the American website DefenseNews released its annual ranking featuring the top 100 defence companies for 2022.

With $64,458.00 in revenues in 2021, the list is led by Lockheed Martin which, followed closely by four other American companies, ensures the top five in the United States. Raytheon Technologies has in fact earned $41,852.20 in revenues in 2021, followed by Boeing with $35,093.00. The ranking reports Northrop Grumman at the fourth position with $31,429.00 revenues, while General Dynamics is closing this block with $30,800.00 in 2021. China also proves to be a fundamental presence, covering several positions starting off the sixth place thanks to Aviation Industry Corporation ($30,155.22). The English BAE System secures the seventh position with $25,775.20. It opens the ranking for European companies, even if it is the Italian Leonardo (twelfth position) to lead the European Union market in this sector. Leonardo has performed exceptionally well in 2021, increasing its revenues by 24% since 2020 (from $13,878.35 to $11,173.33). The French Airbus has, on the contrary, slipped to the fifteenth position, registering a loss of 10% compared to the previous year.

Focusing on the EU market, French Thales and Dassault are next, respectively in sixteenth place ($10,212.39) and twentieth ($6,151.33). More in detail, Dassault has experienced a 65% increase from 2020, due mostly to the increase in Rafale fighter jets’ sales over the past year. Another French company, Naval group, witnessed significant growth in revenues, with a 29% increase, from $3,766.68 in 2020 to $4,850.09 in 2021. It is followed, at the twenty-ninth place, by the German Rheinmetall, while Fincantieri remains consistently in the middle of the ranking, with $2,338.69 of revenues for 2021.

Following the global trend that witnesses the increase of world military expenditure (see SIPRI, 2022), the EU defence market’s leading companies are solid and performing. The existence of pan-European defence industry has been a key issue, especially in recent years, and is leading to a reassessment of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). The necessity to ensure deeper cooperation and interoperability of equipment are now even more relevant, as the EU is expected to increase its military spending following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the efforts to integrate EU defence capabilities by investing in European defence industries might be seen as protectionist, pushing major competitors, such as the US and China, to respond accordingly.  


Battaglia, M. (2022, August 08). Ecco le Top 100 industrie della Difesa. Leonardo prima in Ue. Retrived from:

Csernatoni, Raluca. (2021, December 06). The EU’s Defense Ambitions: Understanding the Emergence of a European Defense Technological and Industrial Complex. Retrieved from:

DefenseNews (2022). Top 100 for 2022. Retrieved from:

European Parliament, Policy Department for External Relations (2020, January). In-Depth Analysis – The EU’s Defence Technological and Industrial Base. Retrieved from:

Seibt, Sébastian (2021, December 5). With billions in new deals, France’s Rafale fighter makes a comeback. France24. Retrieved from: