General Dynamics

General Dynamics
General Dynamics Corporation
Type Public
Industry Defense
Founded February 21, 1952
Founder(s) John Philip Holland
Headquarters West Falls Church, VA, USA
Area served Worldwide
Key people Nicholas D. Chabraja
Chairman of the Board
Jay L. Johnson
Vice Chairman CEO
Products Conglomerate
Revenue increase $ 31.981 billion - 2009
Backlog: $ 65.5 billion[1]
Operating income increase $ 3.675 billion - 2009
Net income increase $ 2.394 billion - 2009
Total assets increase $ 31.077 billion - 2009
Total equity increase $ 12.423 billion - 2009
Employees 91,200 - April 2010[2]

General Dynamics Corporation (NYSEGD) is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world.[3] Its headquarters are in West Falls Church (previously Jefferson), unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Falls Church area.[4][5][6]

The company has changed markedly in the post-Cold War era of defense consolidation. The company has four main business segments: Marine Systems, Combat Systems, Information Systems and Technology, and Aerospace. The company's former Fort Worth Division manufactured the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the most-produced Western jet fighter, but that subsidiary was sold to Lockheed in 1993. GD reentered the airframe business in 1999 with their purchase of Gulfstream Aerospace.



Poster by Erik Nitsche from 1960

Electric Boat

General Dynamics traces its ancestry to John Philip Holland's Holland Torpedo Boat Company. This company was responsible for developing the U.S. Navy's first submarines built at Lewis Nixon's Crescent Shipyard, located in Elizabethport, New Jersey. The revolutionary submarine boat Holland VI was built there, its keel being laid down in 1896. Crescent's superintendent and naval architect, Arthur Leopold Busch, supervised the construction of this submarine. After being launched on 17 May 1897, it was eventually purchased by the Navy and renamed USS Holland. The Holland was officially commissioned on 12 October 1900 and became the United States Navy's first submarine, later known as SS-1. The Navy placed an order for more submarines, which were developed in rapid succession and were assembled at two different locations on both coasts. These submarines were known as the A-Class or Adder Class, and became America's first fleet of underwater craft at the beginning of the 20th century.

Due to the lengthy and expensive process of introducing the world's first practical submarines, Holland, short on funds, had to part with his company and sell his interest to financier Isaac Leopold Rice, renaming the new firm as the Electric Boat Company on 7 February 1899. Holland effectively lost control of the company and found himself earning a salary of $90 a week as chief engineer, while the company he founded was selling submarines for $300,000 each.[citation needed] Holland resigned from the company effective April 1904. Rice became Electric Boat's first President, remaining there from that time until 1915 when he stepped down just prior to his death on 2 November 1915.

Electric Boat gained a reputation for unscrupulous arms dealing in 1904-05, when it sold submarines to Japan's Imperial Japanese Navy and Russia's Imperial Russian Navy, who were then at war.[citation needed] Holland submarines were also sold to the British Royal Navy through the English armaments company Vickers, and to the Dutch to serve in the Royal Netherlands Navy. The new pioneering craft (originally) developed by the company was now legitimized as genuine naval weapons by the world's most powerful navies.

In the post-World War II wind-down, Electric Boat was cash-flush but lacking in work, with its workforce shrinking from 13,000 to 4,000 by 1946.[citation needed] Hoping to diversify, the president and chief executive officer, John Jay Hopkins, started looking for companies that would fit into Electric Boat's market.

Canadair purchase

They quickly found that Canadair, owned by the Canadian government, was suffering from similar post-war malaise and was up for sale. Hopkins bought the company for $10 million in 1946. Even by the Canadian government's calculations, the factory alone was worth more than $22 million,[citation needed] excluding the value of the remaining contracts for planes or spare parts.

When they purchased Canadair, its production line and inventory systems were in disorder. 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 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.[citation needed]

As defense spending increased with the onset of the Cold War, Canadair would go on to win many Canadian military contracts for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and became a major aerospace company. These included Canadair T-33 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 licensed-built version of the Lockheed F-104.

In 1976 Canadair was sold back to the Canadian Government, which sold it to Bombardier Inc. in 1986.

General Dynamics emerges

As the aircraft production at Canadair became increasingly important to the company, Hopkins argued that the name "Electric Boat" was no longer appropriate. On 24 April 1952 the name was officially changed to General Dynamics.[7]

General Dynamics was still cash-flush after the Canadair purchase, and, given the success of that company, they continued to look for new aviation purchases.[citation needed] In March 1953 they purchased Convair from the Atlas Group.[7] The sale was approved by government oversight with the proviso that General Dynamics would continue to operate out of Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. This factory was set up in order to spread out strategic aircraft production and rented to Convair during the war to produce B-24 Liberator bombers. Over time, the Fort Worth plant would become Convair's major production center.[citation needed]

As was the case with Canadair, Convair worked as an independent division within the General Dynamics umbrella. Over the next decade the company introduced the F-106 Delta Dart Interceptor (the earlier F-102 Delta Dagger being designed before the takeover), the B-58 Hustler and the Convair 880 and 990 airliners. Convair also introduced the first U.S. operational intercontinental ballistic missile, the Atlas.

Management churn

Hopkins fell seriously ill during 1957, and was eventually replaced by Frank Pace later that year.[7] Meanwhile, John Naish succeeded Joseph McNarney as president of Convair. Henry Crown became the company's largest shareholder, and merged his Material Service Corporation with GD in 1959.

Naish left in May 1961, taking most of Convair's top people with him. GD subsequently reorganized into Eastern Group in New York 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.[citation needed]

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 the new CEO. The company recovered then fell back into the same struggles. In 1971, the board brought in Dave Lewis (no relation) as Chairman and CEO. At the time he was President of McDonnell Douglas. Dave Lewis served until his retirement in 1985.

Aviation powerhouse

During the early 1960s the company bid on the United States Air Force's TFX (Tactical Fighter, eXperimental) 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. In order to bid on a naval version successfully, GD partnered with Grumman, who would build a customized version for aircraft carrier duties. After four rounds of bids and changes, the GD/Grumman team finally won the contract over a Boeing submission.

The F-111 first flew in December 1964. The F-111B flew in May 1965, but the Navy said that it was too heavy for use on aircraft carriers.[citation needed] With an unacceptable Navy version, estimates for 2,400 F-111s, including exports, were sharply reduced, but GD still managed to make a $300-million profit on the project. Grumman went on to build the F-14 Tomcat, an aircraft that used many of the innovations of the F-111, but 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 San Diego (Convair's original plant), 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.[citation needed]

F-16 success

In 1972, GD bid on the USAF's Lightweight Fighter (LWF) project. GD and Northrop were awarded prototype contracts. GD, whose F-111 program was winding down, desperately needed a new aircraft contract. They organized their own "Skunk Works" group, the Advanced Concepts Laboratory, and responded with a new aircraft design that incorporated more modern equipment than the Northrop contender, mainly fly-by-wire flight controls.[citation needed]

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. F-16 orders eventually totaled more than 4,000, making it the largest and most successful program for GD, and one of the most successful western military projects since World War II.

Land Systems focus

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.

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 missile production 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 their entry into the United States 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.

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 they 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.

General Dynamics Land Systems was hurt by the cancellation of the US Army's Future Combat Systems program and the loss in the MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle competition.[citation needed]

Government lawsuit and settlement

On August 19, 2008, GD agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Government claiming a GD unit fraudulently billed the government for defectively manufactured parts used in US military aircraft and submarines. The US alleged that from September 2001 to August 2003 GD defectively manufactured or failed to test parts used in US military aircraft, such as the C-141 Starlifter transport plane. The GD unit involved, based in Glen Cove, New York, closed in 2004.[8]


Electric Boat was established in 1899.

20th century acquisitions

  • 1946 - Canadair purchased from the Canadian government.
  • 1952 - Electric Boat became General Dynamics.
  • 1953 - Convair merged with General Dynamics.
  • 1959 - Henry Crown acquires company and becomes majority shareholder.
  • 1962-1963 - Convair-produced Mercury-Atlas rockets launch four manned Mercury missions into low Earth orbit, including John Glenn.
  • 1971-1985 David S. Lewis, Jr., was chairman and chief executive officer. During his tenure, General Dynamics’ revenues and earnings quadrupled.
  • 1982 - Formed General Dynamics Land Systems after the acquisition of Chrysler's combat systems.
  • 1995 - Acquired Bath Iron Works from Prudential Insurance.
  • 1996 - Acquired Teledyne Vehicle Systems.
  • 1997 - Acquired Lockheed Martin Defense Systems and Lockheed Martin Armament Systems.
  • 1997 - Acquired Advanced Technology Systems, formerly an operating unit of Lucent Technologies.
  • 1997 - Acquired Computing Devices International, formerly a division of Ceridian Corporation.
  • 1998 - Acquired National Steel and Shipbuilding Company.
  • 1999 - Acquired Gulfstream Aerospace from Forstmann Little.
  • 1999 - Acquired GTE Government Systems, Communication Systems, Electronic Systems and Worldwide Telecommunication Systems Divisions.

21st century acquisitions

  • 2001 - Acquired Galaxy Aerospace Company from Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI)
  • 2001 - GD Decision Systems formed (and later merged with General Dynamics C4 Systems) after acquisition of Motorola's Integrated Information Systems Group.
  • 2002 - Acquired Advanced Technical Products.
  • 2003 - Acquired GM Defense from General Motors.
  • 2003 - Acquired Steyr Daimler Puch Spezialfahrzeug (SSF) from an Austrian investor group, which bought the company in 1998 from the Steyr-Daimler-Puch-conglomerate. SSF is now part of "General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems" which includes also the Spanish Santa Bárbara Sistemas and the Swiss MOWAG, and has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
  • 2003 - Acquired Veridian and Digital Systems Resources.
  • 2003 - Acquired Datron's Intercontinental Manufacturing Company (IMCO) Unit.
  • 2004 - Acquired Spectrum Astro.
  • 2005 - Acquired MAYA Viz Ltd, the primary developer of the US Army's Command Post of the Future software into General Dynamics C4 Systems.
  • 2005 - Acquired Tadpole Computer.
  • 2005 - Acquired Itronix.
  • 2006 - Acquired FC Business Systems.
  • 2006 - Acquired Anteon International.
  • 2007 - Acquired Mediaware International.[9]
  • 2008 - Acquired ViPS, Inc.[10]
  • 2008 - Acquired Jet Aviation.[11]
  • 2009 - Acquired Axletech International.
  • 2010 - Acquired Ascend Intelligence, Inc. TIGR(software)
  • 2011 - Acquired Vangent, Inc. from The Veritas Capital Fund III, LP.[12]


  • Coal mining[when?]
  • Building materials[when?]
  • Limestone[when?]
  • Concrete[when?]
  • 1967 - General Atomics to Gulf Oil
  • 1976 - Canadair sold back to the Canadian government.
  • 1981 - Following expropriation legislation passed by the government of the Province of Quebec, General Dynamics' Canadian subsidiary sold its 54.6% controlling interest in Asbestos Corporation Limited to the Quebec government-owned corporation, Société nationale de l'amiante (SNA).
  • 1991 - Data Systems Division outsourced to Computer Sciences Corp.
  • 1992 - Tactical Missiles Division to Hughes Aircraft Company.
  • 1992 - Cessna to Textron.
  • 1993 - Fort Worth Division, a producer of fixed-wing military aircraft, to Lockheed.
  • 1993 - Space Systems Division to Martin Marietta.
  • 1994 - Convair's aerostructures unit to McDonnell Douglas, (Convair closed in 1996).
  • 2010 - GD Advanced Information Systems unit to Orbital Sciences [13]

Company outline

Marine systems

Combat systems

M1 Abrams

Information systems and technology

Information systems and technology represent 34% of the company's revenue.[25]


Corporate governance

Current members of the board of directors of General Dynamics are: Nicholas Chabraja, Jay L. Johnson, James Crown, William P. Fricks, Charles H. Goodman, George Joulwan, John M. Keane, Paul G. Kaminski, Deborah J. Lucas, Lester Lyles, Carl E. Mundy, Jr., J. Christopher Reyes, and Robert Walmsley.[26]


General Dynamics has about $30 billion in sales, primarily military, but also civilian with its Gulfstream Aerospace unit and conventional shipbuilding and repair with its National Steel and Shipbuilding subsidiary.

In 2004 General Dynamics bid for the UK company Alvis Vickers, 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 in what was seen as a move to keep General Dynamics out of its "back yard".[citation needed] This deal was finalized in June 2004.

General Dynamics has tried to acquire Newport News Shipbuilding but been blocked by regulators and competitors, as this would make General Dynamics the sole manufacturer of nuclear-powered ships in the United States.[citation needed]

Controlled subsidiaries of the corporation are donors to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.[27]

See also

  • Top 100 US Federal Contractors - $16.4 billion in FY2009


  1. ^ - General Dynamics Wins Contract from
  2. ^ GD - General Dynamics Corporation from Google Finance
  3. ^ 2008 Defense News Top 100
  4. ^ "Business Units." General Dynamics. Retrieved on September 7, 2011. "Corporate Headquarters General Dynamics 2941 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 100; Falls Church, Virginia 22042-4513"
  5. ^ "Jefferson CDP, Virginia." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 6, 2011.
  6. ^ "Company Locations." Northrop Grumman. Retrieved on September 6, 2011. "Northrop Grumman Corporation 2980 Fairview Park Drive Falls Church, VA 22042"
  7. ^ a b c "General Dynamics Corporation". U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  8. ^ Washington Post, "General Dynamics To Settle Suit For $4 Million", August 19, 2008, p. D4.
  9. ^ "General Dynamics Acquires Mediaware International"[dead link]. CNN Money
  10. ^ "HLTH Announces Agreement to Sell ViPS Unit to General Dynamics for $225 Million"[dead link]. HLTH Corporation Press Release, June 3, 2008.
  11. ^ "General Dynamics to Boost Gulfstream With Jet Aviation Purchase". Washington Post, August 20, 2008.
  12. ^ "General Dynamics to Acquire Arlington Contractor for Nearly $1 Billion". Washington Post, August 16, 2011.
  13. ^ Orbital buys General Dynamics' spacecraft business - BusinessWeek
  14. ^ General Dynamics Land Systems
  15. ^ General Dynamics Robotic Systems
  16. ^ General Dynamics Robotic Systems - Autonomous Navigation System (ANS)
  17. ^ General Dynamics Robotic Systems - Mobile Detection Assessment and Response System (MDARS)
  18. ^ General Dynamics Robotic Systems - Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV)
  19. ^ General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GDATP)
  20. ^
  21. ^ Page Unavailable
  22. ^ Page Unavailable
  23. ^
  24. ^ Page Unavailable
  25. ^ National Security Inc.
  26. ^ Corporate Governance - Board of Directors, General Dynamics Corporation. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  27. ^ Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute - Donor Information
  • Patents owned by General Dynamics Corporation. US Patent & Trademark Office. URL accessed on 5 December 2005.
  • Founder of the Electric Boat Company from a GeoCities-hosted website
  • Compton-Hall, Richard. The Submarine Pioneers. Sutton Publishing, 1999.
  • Franklin, Roger. The Defender: The Story of General Dynamics. Harper & Row, 1986.
  • General Dynamics. Dynamic America. General Dynamics/Doubleday Publishing Company, 1960.
  • Goodwin, Jacob. Brotherhood of Arms: General Dynamics and the Business of Defending America. Random House, 1985.
  • Pederson, Jay P. (Ed.). International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 40. St. James Press, March 2001. ISBN 1558624457. (General Dynamics section, pp. 204–210). See also International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 86. St. James Press, July 2007. ISBN 1414429703 (General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corporation section, pp. 136–139).
  • Morris, Richard Knowles. John P. Holland 1841-1914, Inventor of the Modern Submarine. The University of South Carolina Press, 1998. (Book originally copyrighted and published by the United States Naval Institute Press, 1966.)
  • Morris, Richard Knowles. Who Built Those Subs?. United States Naval Institute Press, October 1998. (125th Anniversary issue)
  • Rodengen, Jeffrey. The Legend of Electric Boat, Serving The Silent Service. Write Stuff Syndicate, 1994. Account revised in 2007.

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