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Dogfight! See the Top 10 Most Popular Military Transports

Fighter jocks get all the glory.

A few weeks back, we ran a story in this space detailing the top 10 most popular fighter jets in the world -- who buys them, who makes them, and which stocks profit the most from selling them. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be one of the most popular articles written that month. Everybody loves to read about fighter jets. Heck, everybody loves to go to movies about fighter jets. Remember Top Gun, which had Tom Cruise tooling around the Persian Gulf in an F-14 Tomcat?

My guess: That movie wouldn't have done half so well at the box office if it had starred Mr. Cruise making a milk run to Kandahar in a C-130 Hercules. And yet, for an investor, mundane military transport aircraft can be every bit as attractive as their sexier combat fighter cousins.

Case in point, since its introduction in 1954, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) has built and sold nearly 2,500 units of the C-130 Hercules (and its multiple variants, including the C-130J Super Hercules, AC-130J Ghostrider, and AC-130U Spooky). At an average cost of $30 million per unit, each C-130 generated nearly as much revenue for Lockheed as the $38 million F-14 did for its builder, Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC  ) .

And Lockheed sold three times as many C-130s as Northrop sold F-14s.

So ... if your interest in defense companies extends only as far as knowing which planes do the best job of making Tom Cruise look like a normal-sized human being in a flight suit -- by all means, limit your focus to fighter jets. But if you want to know which companies are making big money from selling hundreds and hundreds of military transports, then here's your big chance.

Take a click-tour of the world's most popular military transports in the slideshow below -- and check out our special free report at the end.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 7:54 AM, blesto wrote:

    A vid from the operational view of the mighty Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2013, at 6:59 AM, Dart14N wrote:

    Transports tend to stay in service a lot longer than fighters, most having second lives after their military service in activities such as private cargo and firefighting. That means they generate income for the manufacturer over a much longer time period. Anyone who's spent time in Afghanistan has seen contractors hauling cargo around in former Soviet Air Force and Aeroflot An-12s and Il-76s -- many of which may have been there before, in the 1980s.

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