Going into last year’s U.S. Presidential elections, the domestic defense budget was certainly an area of focus and discussion, and this presents an opportunity today to focus on three ETFs dedicated to the Aerospace and Defense equity sectors.

The largest in the space in terms of assets is ITA (iShares DJ U.S. Aerospace and Defense, Expense Ratio 0.48%), with approximately $80 million in AUM. After initially dipping below $62 in mid-ovember of last year, the sector ETF has rallied impressively, and is challenging multi-year highs ($71.40) while trading near $70.80 currently.

Top holdings in this particular fund are UTX (9.39%), BA (7.36%), PCP (5.96%), LMT (5.56%), and GD (5.50%). [Aerospace and Defense ETFs Face Spending Cuts]

PPA (PowerShares Aerospace and Defense Portfolio, Expense Ratio, 0.60%) has approximately $45 million in AUM and tracks the SPADE Defense Index, with some overlap in common with ITA as far as top holdings (UTX, HON, BA, LMT, and PCP are the top five currently).

XAR (SPDR S&P Aerospace and Defense, Expense Ratio 0.35%) is the newest entrant in this space, debuting in September of 2011 and thus as one might expect, has the lowest AUM totals and average daily volume of this bunch.

In the trailing one year period, all three of these ETFs have trailed the broad market S&P 500 Index by anywhere from 300 to 600 basis points, despite still showing positive returns, but the recent challenge of multi-year highs and potential breakout in the sector may attract more institutional attention to these sector ETFs that largely evade radars it seems, especially if defense budgeting talks remain topical.