Explanation of the data

The information about a company is spread over a details, product and structure tab page. The Details and Products part contains several codes and references, which need some explanation.

Where do the following codes refer to?

- LEI: The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a 20-digit, alpha-numeric code based on the ISO 17442 standard. It connects to key reference information that enables clear and unique identification of legal entities. The LEI register is an initiative by the financial industry to enable clear and unique identification of legal entities participating in financial transactions. It is a voluntary register and therefore still relatively small, but a LEI becomes legally required for an increasing amount of activities, like obtaining money on the financial markets. The complete LEI register is available as open data on It includes basic company information and information on ownership.

- NACE: The NACE is a classification scheme for economic activities used by the EU in its economic statistics. This code refers to the economic sector in which the company is active. As such it provides a general reference to which products or services a company is supplying.

- ML: ML stand for the EU Common Military List of equipment covered by Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment. It contains 22 categories of goods which are placed under export control. These codes are generally used in the arms export reports. In the database we use ML? to refer to products on the Military List in general, when we have no more detailed information. At the moment only Italy and the UK provide detailed product information together with identifed companies.

- NCAGE: A CAGE or NCAGE code stands for NATO Commercial and Government Entity. It is an identifier for companies originating from the US, but now used for all procurement by NATO military. This code allows to identify a company in data about contracts. More information on

- NSCG: The NATO Supply Classification Group code is also part of the NATO logistics system and is a 4-digit code identifying a category of products. In the US procurement system this coding scheme is used across the whole federal administration under the name of Federal Supply Category (FSC). This code reflects which goods or services a company is supplying.
Such products are further individually identified with a NATO Item Identification Number (NIIN). NSCG and NIIN form together the NATO Stock Number (NSN). For more information.
Both NCAGE and NSCG are used in the public US procurement data. The NSCG code can be used to search for which companies provide certain goods. However, as these codes are only available from the US data, we do not have this information for companies coming from other sources or the subsidiaries. Therefore the results of such search are not comprehensive.


Sources of our data

Our information is based on 2 categories of sources. Firstly sources which allowed us to make an inventory of companies active on the defense market: arms export reports when they contained information on individual companies, procurement and tender data, membership lists of industry organisations. Secondly, for these companies basic company information and data on ownership relations and group structures has been collected in this database.

Here we give an overview:

A. Which companies are active on the defense market?

- Arms export reports.

Transparancy on arms exports varies widely across the EU. However, several states do list the exporting companies in their arms export reports: Denmark (till 2011), Italy, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden. The UK provides this information in response to a Freedom of Information-request to CAAT. Hungary and Portugal have a public register of companies which have a license for military production. Estonia has a public register concerning brokers of military goods.

- Procurement and tender data

Defense companies have states as main buyer or end user. Therefore tender and procurement data is a good source. Tender data in the EU varies also strongly in quality. An overview can be found on the opentender-platform. Procurement of defense goods shows up under CPV 35.

An important source of information is also the US procurement data, as European defense companies also export a lot to the US or to US troops based in Europe. This information is available as open data at the Defense Logistics Agency. Compared to the European data it is more comprehensive and of better quality. However, using this data to map the European defense industry leads to a strong regional bias as Eastern Europe is not very present in this dataset. A version for the whole NATO of this data exists as the NATO Master Catalogue of References for Logistics (NMCRL), but is not available as open data.

- Industry organisations

The defense industry is organised in industry organisations and lobby groups on national and international level. Although sometimes too broad when such a group also contains the civilian aerospace industry, it gives an extra view on the main companies.

- Annual accounts

As the annual accounts of large industrial groups often provide details on which companies are consolidated in their account, this was used as an information source for the larger conglomerates.

B. General company information

Again the availability and openness of general company information varies across the EU. Where possible the information from the official registers was used, as well as data from the Legal Entity Identifier-register, an initiative from the financial industry.

Further, also the following organisations kindly provided us with access to their data:

- Opencorporates: OpenCorporates is the largest open database of companies and company data in the world.

- Openthebox: Openthebox is a public accountability initiative and brought data together from Belgian company registers, the Belgian National Bank and information on political mandates.