After two straight banner weeks for marquee aerospace and defense stocks -- companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics -- attention is beginning to turn to the second-tier ranks of America's defense industry. Last week, three of these lesser-known aerospace & defense plays reported their earnings.

They gave up absolutely nothing at all to their bigger-name peers. 

Instead, as first TransDigm (NYSE:TDG), then Huntington Ingalls (NYSE:HII) and Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA) reported earnings in quick succession, the announcements of their earnings were nearly drowned out by the cheers of investors, who sent each stock higher.

On a down week for the S&P, in general, this remarkably resilient performance by the aerospace and defense industry came as a welcome relief to investors. So what did these companies do right that every other company is doing wrong?

In the short slideshow below, we'll tell you all about it. Take a quick look now, and make sure to tune back in at the end for our special free report.

Why Huntington Ingalls, Orbital ATK, and TransDigm All Surged This Week from The Motley Fool.