Aerospace & Defense

Global Arms Sales Reach $375 Billion, First Rise Since 2010

Douglas A. McIntyre

Global arms sales reached $374.8 billion in 2016, the first increase since 2010, according to the latest annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). It covers sales from the world’s largest arms-producing and military services companies. The annual increase was a modest 1.9%, but the jump since 2002 is 38%.

America continues to be that arms merchant to the world, according to the research:

At a combined total of $217.2 billion, arms sales of US companies listed in the SIPRI Top 100 grew by 4.0 per cent in 2016. US military operations overseas as well as acquisitions of large weapon systems by other countries have driven this rise. Arms sales by Lockheed Martin—the world’s largest arms producer—rose by 10.7 per cent in 2016, which was decisive to the increase in the USA’s share of overall SIPRI Top 100 sales to 57.9 per cent. ‘With the acquisition of helicopter producer Sikorsky in late 2015 and higher delivery volumes of the F-35 combat aircraft, Lockheed Martin reported significant growth in its arms sales in 2016,’ says Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Lockheed Martin’s sales reached $40 billion, followed by Boeing at $30 billion, Raytheon at $23 billion, BEA Systems (U.S.) at $23 billion, Northrop Grumman at $21 billion, General Dynamics at $19 billion, Airbus at $12 billion, BEA Systems (U.K.) at $9 billion and L-3 at $9 billion. This means that eight of the top nine arms merchants are based in the United States.

Notably, Russian arms sales barely increased at all last year:

The combined arms sales of Russian companies listed in the SIPRI Top 100 increased by 3.8 per cent, amounting to $26.6 billion in 2016. Russian companies accounted for 7.1 per cent of the overall total. ‘The major economic difficulties experienced by Russia in 2016 have contributed to a slowdown in the rate of increase in the arms sales of Russian companies,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman.

The database does not include information from China, which is presumed to be the home of a number of arms merchants.

The 2016 growth in arms sales may have increased only modestly. However, the United States continues to hold a commanding lead.