Special Report

The 25 Countries Selling the Most Weapons

According to a recent report by the publication Foreign Policy, Russia’s planned arms sales to several African nations, primarily Algeria, Angola, Egypt, and Sudan, has been cut significantly as a direct result of the nation’s war with Ukraine. Russia is one of the world’s largest sovereign exporters of weapons. In 2020, worldwide military and defense spending reached an all time high of close to $2 trillion.

Much of this spending went towards arms procurement – the purchase of military equipment including tanks, aircraft, missiles, and other hardware and weaponry systems. Though many countries invest billions of dollars in defense each year, relatively few have private industry that is sufficiently advanced or robust to meet the needs of their own modern military. As a result, nations large and small rely on international trade to equip and supply their fighting forces.

Using data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 countries that are the largest exporters of arms. Countries arre ranked on the value of their arms exports as a share of all arms exports globally from 2017 to 2021. The United States and Russia alone account for over half of all global arms exports.

Many of the highest ranking countries on this list are home to some of the world’s largest defense contractors. The United States, which alone accounts for over one-third of global arms exports, is home to each of the five largest defense contractors in the world, including Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Here is a look at the 20 companies profiting most from war.

Strategic international alliances are often reflected in the countries that sell arms to one another. For example, about 23% of all U.S. arms exports go to Saudi Arabia, a controversial yet key U.S. ally in the Middle East that has been providing military support to Yemen in their civil war since 2015. Australia and South Korea, the second and third largest buyers of U.S. military exports, are also key American allies. These are the countries buying the most weapons from the U.S. government.

Click here to see the 25 largest exporters of major arms and their main recipients
Click here to see our methodology

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