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Northrop Grumman CEO: 'We don't build weapons with an intent to go to war'

·2 min read

Some countries go to war solely in pursuit of their own interests.

But not the United States, says one defense industry CEO. On a recent episode of "Influencers with Andy Serwer," Northrop Grumman (NOC) CEO Kathy Warden explained her view of the United States’ role in international relations.

“I would say that from an industrial-based perspective, the U.S., even more so than any other part of the world, feels a responsibility for global security,” she told Yahoo Finance's editor-in-chief.

Presently, the U.S. has one of the largest militaries in the world with over 2.1 million active personnel, according to a 2022 World Population Report. That report found the U.S. spends over 3.52% of its total GDP on military expenditures. That's compared to other NATO countries such as Spain and Canada, which spent just 1.02% and 1.39% respectively.

The U.S. also has 700 military bases around 80 countries and territories across the globe, according to research from American University professor David Vine.

Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy J. Warden Speaks to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief, Andy Serwer
Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy J. Warden Speaks to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief, Andy Serwer

Northrop Grumman — an aeronautics, defense, and cyberspace company with origins dating back to the 1930s — builds weapons including warheads and hypersonic missiles. The firm is also currently developing the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider, a strategic bomber than can deliver nuclear weapons. Still, Warden asserts that Northrop intends its products to be used for good rather than for ill.

“We are very much aligned to a philosophy that we don't build weapons with an intent to go to war. We build weapons with an intent to deter conflict and achieve peaceful resolution,” Warden said.

Most Americans would likely agree that the U.S. should avoid war. Around over 70% of Americans say that good diplomacy is the best way to secure peace while nearly 30% prefer military intervention, according to Pew Research Data from 2019. Attitudes on war may also depend on one's political party. Over half of conservative Republicans say military strength is the best way to ensure peace, the Pew Data found.

“I feel strongly that our role in national security is actually keeping the world, and the people in it, safer every day. Not driving us toward conflict,” Warden remarked.

Warden joined Northrop Grumman in 2008 and has been CEO since 2019. Previously, she worked at Veridian Corporation and General Dynamics, and she spent nearly a decade with General Electric.

Northrop Grumman, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, employs roughly 97,000 people. The company has a market cap of $75 billion, and its stock was trading at roughly $490 a share on Sept. 9.

Clarification: This article was updated to note that Northrop has origins going back to the 1930s.

Dylan Croll is a reporter and researcher at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @CrollonPatrol.

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