San Diego’s DEFENSE Industry

San Diego’s defense cluster is critical for the region’s innovation and military economies, and ultimately, to the United States’ national security priorities. San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world and the largest federal military workforce in the country. When considering the overall ripple effects of the defense cluster in San Diego, about 20 percent of San Diego’s gross regional product (GRP) is the result of defense-related spending. Jobs supported as a result of defense spending include uniformed military, federal government employees, and defense contractors, as well as employees in healthcare, engineering, construction, hospitality, and tourism.

The region’s defense cluster catalyzes and inspires local entrepreneurs, emerging industries like unmanned systems and cybersecurity are burgeoning in San Diego and expanding into international markets. For decades, San Diego has benefitted from the advantages for product development, job growth, and the commercialization of defense technology. Like many things in San Diego; however, our defense industry is transforming and modernizing. This has enabled the region to attract an array of pilot programs that seek increase functionality and security of our military bases, but also provides an opportunity for commercial leaders in the innovation economy to engage with the defense industry in non-traditional ways.

Relevant EDC studies: DefenseAI in Cyber | AI in Transportation

Key Companies

  • Kratos
  • Leidos
  • Lockheed Martin
  • L3 Technologies
  • RTX Raytheon Technologies
  • Shield AI
  • Teledyne
  • LRAD Corporation

Key Resources

San Diego Military Advisory Counsel is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization with a mission to support and promote the mutual business and other interests of the military, their quality of life, and the defense community in the San Diego area. The organization releases an annual Military Economic Impact Study; read it here.

National Defense Industrial Association is a 501(c)3 corporate and individual membership association that engages thoughtful and innovative leaders to promote the best policies, practices, products and technology to build a more responsive and collaborative community in support of defense and national security.

Verified Programs of Engineering talent have been identified by employers as the top training programs in San Diego for high-demand jobs. Through EDC’s Advancing San Diego program, Verified Programs participate in a competitive application process and are evaluated annually against a skills-based criteria developed by industry, a commitment to industry engagement, and their ability to reach and serve a diverse student body.

Question about this Industry Profile? Get in touch:

Sofia Nelson-Ferezi
Sofia Nelson-Ferezi

Coordinator, Research