Defense News Roundup: Spy Missions for South Korea, and Rockets for Kuwait

Here's our weekly rundown of the major stories in defense spending.

Jan 5, 2014 at 7:45AM

The U.S. military has a reputation as a somewhat secretive organization. But in one respect at least, the Pentagon is one of the most "open" of our government agencies. Every day of the week, rain or shine, the Department of Defense tells U.S. taxpayers what contracts it's issued, to whom, and for how much -- all right out in the open on its website.

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So what has the Pentagon been up to this week?

DoD is budgeted to spend about $6.2 billion a week on military hardware, infrastructure projects, and supplies in fiscal 2014. (A further $5.6 billion a week goes to pay the salaries and benefits of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen.) The New Year got off to a slow start, however, with the generals spending only $2.7 billion through Friday, in a holiday-abbreviated week.

And what did they get for their (read: "our") money?

Missiles for Kuwait ...
In its role as intermediary between the U.S. government and foreign governments that want to buy our stuff, the Pentagon also brokered a $263 million deal to have Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) sell Kuwait 14 four-packs of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, and seven launcher modification kits.

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Launching a Patriot from a "four-pack." Source: Wikimedia Commons.

and spy planes for South Korea ...
Similarly, Lockheed landed a smallish $8 million contract modifying its duties in the mysterious "Peace Krypton Program." Under this project, Lockheed assists South Korea in running high-level surveillance and reconnaissance flights over "selected areas." These flights gather intelligence on the activities of hostile powers by taking snapshots with Synthetic Aperture Radar systems. Lockheed won the contract Dec. 31, on the final day of last year.

But for America, 1970s-era bombers ...
Meanwhile, in the week's biggest contract, Boeing (NYSE:BA) was awarded $750 million to perform "integrated engineering services" on the U.S. Air Force's fleet of B-1B "Lancer" supersonic strategic bombers. Over the next five years, Boeing will be performing maintenance on the planes, working on their computer networks, and performing other engineering tasks on the planes.

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U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer. Source: Wikimedia Commons

... and engine tune-ups
Also winning contracts from the Air Force -- and from the Navy and Marines besides -- was United Technologies (NYSE:UTX). For $167 million, the company will perform maintenance on the F135 engines that power the F-35 stealth fighter jet. UTC will also keep the engines on Britain's small fleet of F-35s tuned up.

In a similar but unrelated contract, General Electric (NYSE:GE) was awarded $572.5 million to perform maintenance on its own F414 engine, which is used aboard U.S. Navy F/A-18E and -F fighter jets, and EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft besides.

Opportunities on the horizon
So much for the contracts that everyone knows about. Now, let's move on to two contracts that may not yet be incorporated into defense contractors' stock prices.

If you recall, back in September we told you about the possibility that India might soon place orders for a half-dozen of Lockheed Martin's best-selling C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft -- and six more Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transports besides. Well, as it turns out, India's Defence Ministry just confirmed that it will proceed with the purchase of the six C-130Js at an estimated price of $1 billion total. And now that that rumor has been confirmed, it lends credence to the other big contract rumored at the time -- the even bigger sale of $2.7 billion worth of Boeing's C-17s.

Mind you, neither of these contracts has been officially announced yet -- at least not in the United States. As such, few investors are factoring the near-certainty of an additional $1 billion in revenues for Lockheed, or the chance of $2.7 billion more for Boeing, into the stocks' valuations yet. Simply put, almost no one knows about this.

Except that now, you do.

Thanks for all the great stock tips, Pentagon!
You don't always have to look far to find good investments. Sometimes, profiting from our increasingly global economy can be as easy as investing in your own backyard -- and the Pentagon's helpful habit of publishing all its contracts daily as they're awarded certainly makes that easier. 

Want to find more "easy to understand" investments? Read The Motley Fool's free report "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World" shows you how. Click here to get instant access to one free copy.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric and Lockheed Martin. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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