Pentagon Seeks Billions for Arms Companies in Coronavirus Funds

Undersecretary: 'We're talking billions and billions on that one'

With debate picking up for the US to pass another major emergency stimulus package for coronavirus, the Pentagon is lining up this time with the expectation that they will be included. The money would be going to well-connected US arms makers, already some of the world’s most heavily subsidized companies as it is.

Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord says the pandemic is effecting ship-building, aviation, and space-launch companies, and that the Pentagon is going for a major pay-day for these groups, adding “we’re talking billions and billions on that one.”

Talk of small space launch firms having to shut doors because of the pandemic wrongly gives the impression that we are not talking talking about the same handful of huge companies constantly lining up for large amounts of subsidy.

The big winners are expected to be Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and Boeing was already expected to get some money out of the airliner bailout that was already coming. The money is either going to their subsidies, or to suppliers heavily beholden to those companies for their business.

Tellingly, the undersecretary could not single out any particular programs that might actually be impacted by the virus, rather saying that notapproving the billions of dollars could lead to “inefficiencies and so forth.”

That’s probably more than the Pentagon expected to have to offer in way of explanation, since generally when billions are being doled out, those arms makers will be getting a large slice as a matter of course. That the coronavirus isn’t meant to be a defense bill seems very much beside the point.

It’s not clear how eager Congress will be to make this new bill about the military, though the Pentagon seems to be betting, to the tune of billions of dollars, that they will.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.