General Dynamics

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General Dynamics Corporation
Company typePublic
Founded1896; 128 years ago (1896) as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company
FounderJohn Philip Holland
United States
Area served
Key people
Phebe Novakovic (chairman and CEO)
RevenueIncrease US$42.3 billion (2023)
Increase US$4.25 billion (2023)
Decrease US$3.32 billion (2023)
Total assetsIncrease US$54.8 billion (2023)
Total equityIncrease US$21.3 billion (2023)
Number of employees
111,600 (2023)
  • Aerospace
  • Marine Systems
  • Combat Systems
  • Technologies
Footnotes / references

General Dynamics Corporation (GD) is an American publicly traded aerospace and defense corporation headquartered in Reston, Virginia. As of 2020, it was the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world by arms sales, and fifth largest in the United States by total sales.[2] The company is a Fortune 100 company, and was ranked No. 94 in 2022.[3]

Formed in 1954 with the merger of submarine manufacturer Electric Boat and aircraft manufacturer Canadair,[4] the corporation today consists of ten subsidiary companies with operations in 45 countries. The company's products include Gulfstream business jets, Virginia and Columbia class nuclear-powered submarines, Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyers, M1 Abrams tanks and Stryker armored fighting vehicles.

In 2022, General Dynamics had worldwide sales of $39.4 billion and a workforce of approximately 106,500 full-time employees.[1] The current chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) is Phebe Novakovic.


Electric Boat[edit]

General Dynamics traces its ancestry to John Philip Holland's Holland Torpedo Boat Company.[5] In 1899, Isaac Rice bought the company from Holland and renamed it Electric Boat Company.[6] Electric Boat was responsible for developing the U.S. Navy's first modern submarines, which were purchased by the Navy in 1900.[7]

In 1906, Electric Boat subcontracted submarine construction to the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, to build the submarines they had designed and won contracts for. Between 1917 and 1924, the company was named Submarine Boat Corporation.[6] In 1933, Electric Boat acquired ownership of a shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, to build submarines.[citation needed] The first submarine built in Groton to be delivered to the U.S. Navy was USS Cuttlefish in 1934.[8]

Electric Boat was cash-flush but lacking in work following World War II, during which it produced 80 submarines for the Navy, with its workforce shrinking from 13,000 to 4,000 by 1946.[6] President and chief executive officer John Jay Hopkins started looking for companies that would fit into Electric Boat's market in hopes of diversifying.[6]

Canadair purchase[edit]

Canadair was owned by the Canadian government and was suffering from the same post-war malaise as Electric Boat. It was up for sale, and Hopkins bought the company for $10 million in 1946. The factory alone was worth more than $22 million, according to the Canadian government's calculations,[6] excluding the value of the remaining contracts for planes or spare parts. However, Canadair's production line and inventory systems were in disorder when Electric Boat purchased the company. Hopkins hired Canadian-born mass-production specialist H. Oliver West to take over the president's role and return Canadair to profitability. Shortly after the takeover, Canadair began delivering its new Canadair North Star (a version of the Douglas DC-4) and was able to deliver aircraft to Trans-Canada Airlines, Canadian Pacific Airlines, and British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) well in advance of their contracted delivery times.[9]

Defense spending increased with the onset of the Cold War, and Canadair went on to win many Canadian military contracts for the Royal Canadian Air Force and became a major aerospace company. These included Canadair CT-133 Silver Star trainer, the Canadair Argus long-range maritime reconnaissance and transport aircraft, and the Canadair F-86 Sabre. Between 1950 and 1958, 1,815 Sabres were built. Canadair also produced 200 CF-104 Starfighter supersonic fighter aircraft, a license-built version of the Lockheed F-104.

In 1976, General Dynamics sold Canadair to the Canadian Government for $38 million.[4] Canadair was acquired by Bombardier Inc. in 1986.[10]

General Dynamics emerges[edit]

Aircraft production became increasingly important at Canadair, and Hopkins argued that the name "Electric Boat" was no longer appropriate—so Electric Boat was reorganized as General Dynamics on 24 April 1952.[11]

General Dynamics purchased Convair from the Atlas Group in March 1953.[11] The sale was approved by government oversight with the provision that GD would continue to operate out of Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. This factory had been set up in order to spread out strategic aircraft production and rented to Convair during the war to produce B-24 Liberator bombers.

Convair worked as an independent division inside General Dynamics and, over the next decade, developed the F-106 Delta Dart interceptor, the B-58 Hustler bomber, and the Convair 880 and 990 airliners. Convair also developed the Atlas missile, the US's first operational intercontinental ballistic missile.[12]

General Dynamics purchased Liquid Carbonic Corporation in September 1957 and controlled it as a wholly owned subsidiary until a Federal antitrust ruling required its sale to shareholders in January 1969, being bought later that month by Houston Natural Gas Company.[13][14]

Management churn[edit]

Hopkins fell seriously ill in 1957 and was eventually replaced by Frank Pace later that year.[11] Meanwhile, John Naish succeeded Joseph McNarney as president of Convair. Chicago industrialist Henry Crown became the company's largest shareholder and merged his Material Service Corporation with GD in 1959.[15]

GD subsequently reorganized into Eastern Group in New York City and Western Group in San Diego, California, with the latter taking over all of the aerospace activities and dropping the Convair brand name from its aircraft in the process.[16]

Frank Pace retired under pressure in 1962 and Roger Lewis, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force and Pan American Airways CEO, was brought in as CEO. The company recovered, then fell back into the same struggles. In 1970, the board brought in McDonnell Douglas president Dave Lewis (no relation) as chairman and CEO, who served until retiring in 1985.[6]

Aviation in the 1960s[edit]

During the early 1960s the company bid on the United States Air Force's Tactical Fighter, Experimental (TFX) project for a new low-level "penetrator". Robert McNamara, newly installed as the Secretary of Defense, forced a merger of the TFX with U.S. Navy plans for a new long-range "fleet defender" aircraft. Since GD lacked experience designing naval aircraft, it partnered with Grumman to develop a version for aircraft carrier operations. After four rounds of bids and changes, the GD/Grumman team finally won the contract over a Boeing submission.

The land-based F-111 first flew in December 1964; the carrier-capable F-111B flew in May 1965, but proved overweight and underpowered for the navy's needs.[17] With the naval version not accepted, production estimates for 2,400 F-111s including exports were sharply reduced, but GD still made a $300-million profit on the project.[16] Grumman went on to use many of the innovations of the F-111 in the F-14 Tomcat,[6] an aircraft designed solely as a carrier-borne fighter.


In May 1965, GD reorganized into 12 operating divisions based on product lines. The board decided to build all future planes in Fort Worth, ending plane production at Convair's original plant in San Diego but continuing with space and missile development there. In October 1970, Roger Lewis left and David S. Lewis from McDonnell Douglas was named CEO. Lewis required that the company headquarters move to St. Louis, Missouri, which occurred in February 1971.[18]

F-16 success[edit]

In 1972, GD bid on the USAF's Lightweight Fighter (LWF) project. GD and Northrop were awarded prototype contracts. GD's F-111 program was winding down, and the company needed a new aircraft contract. It organized its own version of Lockheed's Skunk Works, the Advanced Concepts Laboratory, and responded with a new aircraft design incorporating advanced technologies. The company submitted a design in a 1972 competition for a new lightweight fighter, which it won. This was the F-16 Fighting Falcon.[19]

GD's YF-16 first flew in January 1974 and proved to have slightly better performance than the YF-17 in head-to-head testing. It entered production as the F-16 in January 1975 with an initial order of 650 and a total order of 1,388. The F-16 also won contracts worldwide, beating the F-17 in foreign competition as well. GD built an aircraft production factory in Fort Worth, Texas. F-16 orders eventually totaled more than 4,600,[citation needed] making it the company's largest and most successful program.[citation needed]

Land Systems and Marine Systems focus[edit]

In 1976, General Dynamics sold the struggling Canadair back to the Canadian government for $38 million. By 1984, General Dynamics had four divisions: Convair in San Diego, General Dynamics-Fort Worth, General Dynamics-Pomona, and General Dynamics-Electronics. In 1985 a further reorganization created the Space Systems Division from the Convair Space division. In 1985, GD also acquired Cessna. In 1986 the Pomona division (which mainly produced the Standard Missile and the Phalanx CIWS for the Navy) was split up, creating the Valley Systems Division. Valley Systems produced the Stinger surface-to-air missile and the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). Both units were recombined into one entity in 1992.

Henry Crown, still GD's largest shareholder, died on 15 August 1990. Following this, the company started to rapidly divest its under-performing divisions under CEO William Anders. Cessna was re-sold to Textron in January 1992, the San Diego and Pomona missile production units to General Motors-Hughes Aerospace in May 1992, the Fort Worth aircraft production to Lockheed in March 1993 (a nearby electronics production facility was separately sold to Israeli-based Elbit Systems, marking that company's entry into the US market), and its Space Systems Division to Martin Marietta in 1994. The remaining Convair Aircraft Structure unit was sold to McDonnell Douglas in 1994. The remains of the Convair Division were simply closed in 1996. GD's exit from the aviation world was short-lived, and in 1999 the company acquired Gulfstream Aerospace. The Pomona operation was closed shortly after its sale to Hughes Aircraft.

In 1995, General Dynamics purchased the privately held Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine, for $300 million, diversifying its shipbuilding portfolio to include U.S. Navy surface ships such as guided-missile destroyers.[20] In 1998, the company acquired NASSCO, formerly National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, for $415 million. The San Diego shipyard produces U.S. Navy auxiliary and support ships as well as commercial ships that are eligible to be U.S.-flagged under the Jones Act.[21]

Having divested itself of its aviation holdings, GD concentrated on land and sea products. GD purchased Chrysler's defense divisions in 1982, renaming them General Dynamics Land Systems. In 2003, it purchased the defense divisions of General Motors as well. It is now a major supplier of armored vehicles of all types, including the M1 Abrams, LAV 25, Stryker, and a wide variety of vehicles based on these chassis. Force Protection, Inc. was acquired by General Dynamics Land Systems in November 2011 for $350 million.

General Dynamics UK[edit]

In 1997, General Dynamics acquired Computing Devices Ltd based in Hastings, England, which had developed avionics and mission systems for the Panavia Tornado, British Aerospace Harrier II and Hawker Siddeley Nimrod.[22][23] In 2001, Computing Devices Canada (CDC) was awarded a contract from the UK Ministry of Defence to supply tactical communication systems for their Bowman program. The work for this was carried out at its new UK headquarters in Oakdale, Wales and the company was renamed General Dynamics UK Limited.[24] As of 2020, it comprises two business units: General Dynamics Land Systems - UK and General Dynamics Mission Systems - UK and operates in eight sites across the United Kingdom.[25] It is currently responsible for delivering the General Dynamics Ajax family of armored vehicles, the Foxhound light protected patrol vehicle and the Morpheus communications system to the UK Ministry of Defence.

Recent history[edit]

In 1999, the company acquired Gulfstream Aerospace. Here, a Gulfstream G650 departs Bristol Airport, England in 2014.

In 2004, General Dynamics bid for the UK company Alvis plc, the leading British manufacturer of armored vehicles. In March the board of Alvis Vickers voted in favor of the £309m takeover. However at the last minute BAE Systems offered £355m for the company. This deal was finalized in June 2004.[26]

On August 19, 2008, GD agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Government claiming that a GD unit fraudulently billed the government for defectively manufactured parts used in US military aircraft and submarines. The US alleged that GD defectively manufactured or failed to test parts used in US military aircraft from September 2001 to August 2003, such as for the C-141 Starlifter transport plane. The GD unit involved, based in Glen Cove, New York, closed in 2004.[27]

In 2014, the government of Canada announced it had selected the General Dynamics Land Systems subsidiary in London, Ontario, to produce Light Armoured Vehicles for Saudi Arabia as part of a $10 billion deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation.[28] The sale has been criticized by political opponents because of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[29][30] In December 2018, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Canada might scrap the deal, the company warned that doing so could lead to "billions of dollars in liability" and risk the loss of thousands of jobs.[31][32] Trudeau has since said that while he is critical of Saudi conduct, he cannot simply scrap the deal because "Canada as a country of the rule of law needs to respect its contracts."[33] On 30 January 2019, CEO Phebe Novakovic warned investors that the matter had "significantly impacted" the company's cash flow because Saudi Arabia was nearly $2 billion in arrears on its payments.[34]

In 2018, General Dynamics acquired information technology services giant CSRA for $9.7 billion, and merged it with GDIT.[35]

General Dynamics has been accused by groups such as Code Pink and Green America of "making money from human suffering by profiting off the migrant children held at U.S. detention camps"[36] due to its IT services contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that operates shelters for unaccompanied children to include those separated from their families as part of the Trump administration family separation policy.[37][38] The company says it has no role in constructing or operating detention centers, and that its contracts to provide training and technical services began in 2000 and have spanned across four presidential administrations.[39]

It was announced in September 2018 that the U.S. Navy awarded contracts for 10 new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries.[40]

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense General Jim Mattis re-joined the company's board of directors in August 2019. He had previously served on the board, but resigned and divested before becoming Secretary of Defense.[41]

In September 2020, General Dynamics announced a strategic counter-drone partnership, providing General Dynamics' global network with access to Dedrone's complete drone detection and defeat technology.[42]

In December 2020, the board of directors for General Dynamics announced a regular quarterly dividend of $1.10, payable on February 5, 2021.[43][44]

On December 26, 2020, General Dynamics confirmed that their business division General Dynamics Land Systems was awarded a $4.6 billion contract by the U.S. Army for M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks.[45]

General Dynamics' supply of weapons to Israel in the 2023 Israel–Hamas war has led to protests at facilities in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Lincoln, Nebraska, Saco, Maine, New London, Connecticut and Garland, Texas. Protesters at the New London demonstration compared General Dynamics deployment of an Ohio-class submarine to the feature film Oppenheimer. Twenty-three protesters were arrested at the Garland demonstration, in which women wearing hijabs say they were forcibly unveiled by police.[46][47][48][49][50] Activists in Maine have called for an end to state subsidies to the company.[51]

Acquisitions timeline[edit]

20th-century acquisitions[edit]

Year Acquisition Business group
1947 Canadair[52] Aerospace
1953 Convair[53] Aerospace
1955 Stromberg-Carlson[54] Combat Systems
1957 Liquid Carbonic Corporation[55] Aerospace
1959 Material Service Corporation[56]
1982 Chrysler's combat systems[57] Combat Systems
1995 Bath Iron Works[58] Marine Systems
1996 Teledyne Vehicle Systems[59] Marine Systems
1997 Advanced Technology Systems[60] Combat Systems
1997 Lockheed Martin Defense Systems[61] Combat Systems
1997 Lockheed Martin Armament Systems[61] Combat Systems
1997 Computing Devices International[62] Technologies
1998 National Steel and Shipbuilding Company[63] Marine Systems
1999 Gulfstream Aerospace[64] Aerospace
1999 GTE Government Systems[65] Technologies
2000 Saco Defense[66][67] Combat Systems

21st-century acquisitions[edit]

Year Acquisition Business group
2001 PrimeX Technologies Inc.[68] Technologies
2001 Motorola Integrated Systems[69] Technologies
2001 Galaxy Aerospace Company[70] Aerospace
2001 Santa Bárbara Sistemas[71] Combat Systems
2002 EWK Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern[72] Combat Systems
2003 GM Defense[73][74] Combat Systems
2003 Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug[citation needed] Combat Systems
2003 Veridian and Digital Systems Resources[75] Technologies
2003 Datron's Intercontinental Manufacturing Company[76] Combat Systems
2004 Spectrum Astro[77] Aerospace
2004 MOWAG[78] Combat Systems
2005 MAYA Viz Ltd [79] Technologies
2005 Tadpole Computer [80] Technologies
2005 Itronix[81] Technologies
2006 FC Business Systems [82] Technologies
2006 Anteon International[83] Technologies
2007 Mediaware International [84] Technologies
2008 ViPS, Inc.[85] Technologies
2008 Jet Aviation[86] Aerospace
2009 Axletech International[87] Combat Systems
2010 Kylmar Ltd.[88] Combat Systems
2011 Vangent, Inc.[89] Technologies
2011 Metro Machine Imperial Docks Inc.[90] Marine Systems
2011 Force Protection Inc.[91] Combat Systems
2012 Earl Industries’ Ship Repair Division[92] Marine Systems
2012 Open Kernel Labs[93] Technologies
2012 Applied Physical Sciences[94] Aerospace
2016 Bluefin Robotics[95] Marine Systems
2018 CSRA Inc.[96][97][98] Technologies
2018 Hawker Pacific[99] Aerospace
2018 FWW Fahrzeugwerk GmbH[100] Combat Systems


Year Divestiture Purchaser
1953 Liquid Carbonic Corporation[101] Houston Natural Gas Co.
1957 Asbestos Corporation Limited Société nationale de l'amiante (SNA)
1967 General Atomics[102] Gulf Oil
1976 Canadair[103] Canadian government
1991 Data Systems Division[104] Computer Sciences Corporation
1995 Tactical Missiles Division Hughes Aircraft Company
1992 Cessna[105] Textron
1992 Electronics Division[106] The Carlyle Group
1993 Fort Worth Division (F-16s)[107] Lockheed Corporation
1994 Space Systems Division[108] Martin Marietta
1994 Convair's aerostructure unit[109] McDonnell Douglas
2006 Material Service[110] Hanson
2007 Freeman United Coal Mining Co.[111] Springfield Coal Co.
2010 Spacecraft development and manufacturing[112] Orbital Sciences Corporation
2014 Advanced Systems[113] MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates

Company outline[edit]

Business units[edit]

As of 2021, General Dynamics consists of ten separate businesses organised as four operating segments:[citation needed]

Marine Systems
Combat Systems

Aircraft systems[edit]

Marine systems[edit]

Missile systems[edit]

Combat systems[edit]

M1 Abrams

Information Systems and Technology[edit]

Information Systems and Technology represent 34% of the company's revenue as of 2014.[122]

Launch vehicles[edit]

Corporate governance[edit]

General Dynamics current chairman and chief executive officer is Phebe N. Novakovic.

Board Member Role
Phebe N. Novakovic Chairman and chief executive officer
James S. Crown Lead Director
Rudy F. deLeon Director
Cecil D. Haney Director and chair, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee
Mark M. Malcolm Director
James N. Mattis Director
C. Howard Nye Director and chair, Audit Committee
Robert K. Steel Director and chair, Sustainability Committee
Catherine B. Reynolds Director and chair, Finance and Benefit Plans Committee
Laura J. Schumacher Director and chair, Compensation Committee
John G. Stratton Director
Peter A. Wall Director

As of December 2022.[123]


General Dynamics has $30.9 billion in sales as of 2017[124] primarily military, but also civilian with its Gulfstream Aerospace unit and conventional shipbuilding and repair with its National Steel and Shipbuilding subsidiary.

For the fiscal year 2022, General Dynamics reported net income of US$3.309 billion, with an annual revenue of US$39.407 billion, an increase of 2.44% over the previous fiscal cycle. General Dynamics's shares traded at over $254 per share in 2022, and its market capitalization was valued at US$62.46 billion in December 2022.[125]

Year Revenue
in mil. US$
Net income
in mil. US$
in mil. US$
2005 20,975 1,461 19,700 72,200
2006 24,063 1,856 22,376 81,000
2007 27,240 2,072 25,733 83,500
2008 29,300 2,459 28,373 92,300
2009 31,981 2,394 31,077 91,700
2010 32,466 2,624 32,545 90,000
2011 32,677 2,526 34,883 95,100
2012 30,992 −332 34,309 92,200
2013 30,930 2,357 35,494 96,000
2014 30,852 2,533 35,337 99,500
2015 31,781 3,036 31,997 99,900
2016 30,561 2,572 33,172 98,800
2017 30,973 2,912 35,046 98,600
2018 36,193 3,345 45,408 105,600
2019 39,350 3,484 49,349 102,900
2020 37,925 3,167 51,308 100,700
2021 38,469 3,257 50,073 103,100
2022 39,407 3,390 51,585 106,500

As of January 2023.[125][126]

Carbon emissions[edit]

General Dynamics reported Total CO2e emissions (Direct + Indirect) for 2021 at 696,118 mt (-8.7% year over year) and aims to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2034. The company is on track to become carbon neutral before 2060.[127]

General Dynamics's annual total CO2e Emissions (in Metric Tons)[128]
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
901,666 817,293 821,773 784,264 794,161 762,200 696,118 681,454

Company demographics[edit]

In 2021, General Dynamics's U.S. workforce was 21% veterans, 23% female, and 27% people of color. The US Department of Labor awarded the company the 2021 HIRE Vets Gold Award.[129] The company has 26 Employee Resource Groups serving 10 employee segments.[130] Approximately 20% of the company's employees are represented by labor unions such as International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), The International Union, and United Auto Workers (UAW).[130] Independent research published by American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), U.S. Department of Labor, Military Times, U.S. Veterans Magazine, Professional Women's Magazine, Forbes, and Fortune selected General Dynamics as a top employer.[130] General Dynamics' community contributions in 2021 were 70% in Education & Social Services, 18% in Arts & Culture, and 12% in Service Member Support.[130]

See also[edit]



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  • Patents owned by General Dynamics Corporation. US Patent & Trademark Office. URL accessed on 5 December 2005.
  • Founder of the Electric Boat Company at the Wayback Machine (archived October 26, 2009) from a GeoCities-hosted website
  • Compton-Hall, Richard. The Submarine Pioneers. Sutton Publishing, 1999.
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  • Pederson, Jay P. (Ed.). International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 40. St. James Press, March 2001. ISBN 1-55862-445-7. (General Dynamics section, pp. 204–210). See also International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 86. St. James Press, July 2007. ISBN 1-4144-2970-3 (General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corporation section, pp. 136–139).
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  • Morris, Richard Knowles. Who Built Those Subs?. United States Naval Institute Press, October 1998. (125th Anniversary issue)
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