Generally dynamic, General Dynamics is a prime military contractor to the Pentagon (the US government accounts for about 65% of sales). The company's military operations include information systems and technology (information technology and collection, as well as command control systems); marine systems (warships, commercial tankers, and nuclear submarines); and combat systems (battle tanks, wheeled combat/tactical vehicles, munitions, and rockets and gun systems). Its aerospace unit, which is composed of Gulfstream Aerospace and Jet Aviation designs, makes, and refurbishes business jets primarily for civilian customers.
Unlike some of its rivals who cater only to the military market that is at the mercy of government budgetary fluctuations, General Dynamics caters to military and civilian sectors, manufacturing both combat systems and high-tech systems, with each side buffering the other in times of market downturn. The Combat Systems division is composed of Armament and Technical Products; European Land Systems; Land Systems; and Ordnance and Tactical Systems.
General Dynamic's Marine Systems group is a major shipbuilder for the US Navy, and it provides MRO (maintenance/repair/overhaul) services to keep those vessels ship-shape. Marine systems manufactures the Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG-51), and the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition combat-logistics ship (T-AKE). Subsidiary Electric Boat builds nuclear submarines (Seawolf, Ohio, and Los Angeles classes), while Bath Iron Works builds DDG-51 and DDG-1000 destroyers.
On the civilian side of the business, the company's Aerospace segment produces mid- and large-cabin business jet aircraft, for which the company provides maintenance, refurbishment, and outfitting.
Last, but not least -- serving both the military and civilian sides -- the company's information systems and technology business unit provides cyber security, tactical communication systems, sensors and cameras, ruggedized computers (for use in harsh environments, such as those with strong vibrations, extreme temperatures, and wet or dusty conditions), and antennas to customers in the DoD, the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community, federal civilian agencies, and international customers.
After enjoying years of revenue growth and profitability, General Dynamics saw its revenues dip by 32% from $32.7 billion in 2011 to $31.5 billion in 2012. It also suffered a net loss of $332 million for 2012, marking its first unprofitable year in over a decade.
The decrease in revenue was driven by lower sales from the information systems and technology segment's mobile communication systems business and from several international wheeled vehicle contracts in its Combat Systems group. The net loss was the result of the lower net sales coupled with a $2 billion impairment charge recorded for the information systems and technology group.
Though US defense spending is in decline -- with the President making a fiscal 2013 defense budget request of $525 billion, down from $531 billion in fiscal 2012 -- General Dynamics' business addresses programs that the military continues to emphasize, including the need for warfighters and the need to replace resources lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the first US submarine to be configured for a post-Cold War defense landscape, General Dynamics' Virginia-class submarine continues to meet the needs of the US Navy.
In an effort to boost its commercial networking business, General Dynamics in mid-2012 acquired IPWireless (renamed General Dynamics Broadband), a manufacturer of broadband wireless infrastructure and network access equipment for customers that range from wireless operators to public safety organizations. The purchase will help General Dynamics specifically serve municipalities who are moving broadband public safety networks. All in all General Dynamics acquired seven companies in 2012 for an aggregate total of $444 million.
In 2011 the company snapped up Massachusetts-based Fortress Technologies, a secure wireless networking equipment provider with a customer base that includes the US military and other government agencies. Fortress Technologies continues as part of General Dynamics C4 Systems. That same year General Dynamics acquired Vangent Holding Corp., parent company of Vangent, a leading provider of health care IT systems to federal agencies, in a cash transaction valued at about $960 million.
Longview Asset Management Company owns 10% of the company.