Sustainability in Aerospace and Defense - Thematic Research
Sustainability is of tremendous importance to the defense and aerospace industry and has implications across many levels of production. Commercial aircraft are a significant source of carbon emissions, and the industry is coming under increasing pressure to increase its climate responsibility.
The defense industry specifically also needs to maintain a consciousness of sustainability issues. Manufacturing defense platforms demands vast quantities of raw materials such as metals. These metals must be dug up from the ground, its ore processed, melted into a useable form and then processed through stamping, casting, forging or milling. These processes are among the most energy-intensive across all manufacturing. Additionally, advanced systems rely upon rare earth metals, which are sparse globally, and concentrated in countries with questionable human rights records. For example, Cobalt is mainly sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where supply chains are hard to trace and concerns have been raised over the use of child labor. China has the world's largest resources of rare earth metals, holding approximately 35% of the world's reserves.
Sustainability also encompasses good corporate governance. One measure of good corporate governance may be the reliance to cyber-attacks. Aerospace and defense firms are often possess highly classified information, making them an attractive target for cyber-attacks and ransomware attacks. In 2020, a supplier to several major defense companies, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and SpaceX, was the target of a ransomware attack.