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.
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Textron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.