Three days after U.S. warships fired 47 cruise missiles at Sunni militant targets in northern Syria last week, the Pentagon signed a $251-million deal to buy more Tomahawks from Raytheon Co., a windfall for the military giant and its many subcontractors.

As U.S. combat operations ended in Iraq and Afghanistan, the defense industry braced for protracted budget cuts at the Pentagon. Major contractors have laid off workers, merged with one another and slowed production lines as spending shrank and leaner times loomed ahead.

But with U.S. and allied aircraft now bombing Islamic State and Al Qaeda positions in Iraq and Syria, including 41 airstrikes since Monday, many analysts foresee a boost to bottom lines for munitions manufacturers, weapons producers and other military contractors — including many in Southern California.

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