Impact of COVID-19 on the Military & Defense Industry

By General Dr. Salim Abou Ismail; Editorial Director, Al Defaiya Magazine12.05.2020 Security
Impact of COVID-19 on the Military & Defense Industry

Impact of COVID-19 on the Military & Defense Industry

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Military whereas many Military Trainings and Exercises have been cancelled. Armed Forces in several countries were mobilized to fight this global disease, and this would affect later the priorities of Defense Procurement and may cancel military operations overseas. Until writing this article at least five International Defense Exhibitions around the world were cancelled.

During the last two months Armed Forces were involved in fighting COVID-19, some of them are still carrying out an important role in supporting both healthy and infected citizens, streets of towns are being disinfected by troops, and medical personnel from the Armed Forces are working in hospitals.

Troops involved in fighting COVID-19, are exposed to the danger of being infected by the virus, and hence may transmit and spread the disease among the military units.

The economic crisis evolved through combating COVID-19, will have direct impact on the sources of Defense Procurement, and on Defense Budgets of many countries, which shall be reduced as providing military equipment to the Armed Forces will not be a top priority.

The effect of COVID-19 on some cases and companies can be illustrated as follows:

  • On April 3, 2020 the US Navy Command announced that 137 members of the Aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for COVID-19.
  • In Mid-April, the French Defense Ministry announced that one third of nearly 2,000 sailors who were onboard French Aircraft Carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, tested positive for the corona virus.
  • Defense Companies started imposing financial measures to reduce the impacts of COVID-19. As of first April, the American Company Honeywell and the British Company QinetiQ announced financial measures in anticipation of a contraction of the global defense market as a result of the disease.
  • Boeing Company cut expenses to face the long-term effects of COVID-19, and decided to lay off 10% of its workforce. This decision will affect the production of both Commercial aircrafts and warplanes, in addition to other Defense products.
  • On April 8, Airbus Company announced a reduction in the production of many aircrafts and helicopters due to COVID-19, and activated the production of visor frames for protective face masks and some other products for health care purposes. The company also mobilized 53 crisis management teams around the world in response to COVID-19, and declared that many governments are using Airbus aircrafts and helicopters.
  • Northrop Grumman announced on April 29 that its operating income has decreased within Aeronautics and Defense Systems by 16% and 3% respectively. These figures show that there has been some level of supply chain disruption due to COVID-19.
  • On April 20, Lockheed Martin announced that Corona virus hit its supply chain; the company had delayed shipments of vital supplies to its numerous businesses and will likely hurt its sales this year. Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s top weapon dealer, assured that COVID-19 is hurting production in its biggest unit, the Aeronautics Division that makes F-35 fighter jet.
  • In response to COVID-19, BAE Systems launched a campaign for manufacturing personal protective equipment for health care, and the company shipped in one week more than 1,500 face shield frames to health organizations in USA.



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