Global arms sales up nearly 5%

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Ex-US RG33s heading to Egypt.

Weapons of war are proliferating in a world full of threats and instability, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), and the report’s total of arms and military services sold worldwide does not even include China.

Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 100 companies (excluding Chinese ones) were up by 4.6 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, totaling $420 billion, the report states, as reported by Defenceweb.

The new data from SIPRI’s Arms Industry Database shows that sales of arms and military services by companies listed in the Top 100 have increased by 47 percent since 2002 (the year from which comparable data is first available). The database excludes Chinese companies due to the lack of data to make a reliable estimate, SIPRI said this week.

For the first time since 2002, the top five spots in the ranking are held exclusively by arms companies based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. These five companies alone accounted for $148 billion and 35 percent of total Top 100 arms sales in 2018. Total arms sales of US companies in the ranking amounted to $246 billion, equivalent to 59 percent of all arms sales by the Top 100. This is an increase of 7.2 percent compared with 2017, according to SIPRI data.

A key development in the U.S. arms industry in 2018 was the growing trend in consolidations among some of the largest arms producers. For example, two of the top five, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, made multibillion-dollar acquisitions in 2018.

“U.S. companies are preparing for the new arms modernization program that was announced in 2017 by President Trump,” said Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. “Large US companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and therefore be in a better position to win contracts from the US Government.”

The combined arms sales of the ten Russian companies in the 2018 ranking were $36.2 billion — a marginal decrease of 0.4 percent on 2017. Their share of total Top 100 arms sales fell from 9.7 percent in 2017 to 8.6 percent in 2018. This can be explained by the higher Top 100 total in 2018 due to the substantial growth in the combined arms sales of US and European companies.

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