Special Report

The Nations Selling The Most Weapons And Who Their Clients Are

The United States announced earlier this month it would send another $400 million in military equipment to Ukraine. The weapons, which include demolition munitions, mobile armored bridges, and additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, constituted the 33rd such package the U.S. has sent to the war-torn nation since August of 2021. In total, the U.S. has sent more than $30 billion in gear to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion last February. Over the past five years, however, other countries were the top recipients of U.S. arms exports. (These are the countries sending the most aid to Ukraine.

Though many countries invest billions of dollars in defense each year, not all have arms industries sufficient to meet the needs of their own modern military. As a result, certain countries with robust weapons industries export tens of billions of dollars of armaments each year. The United States being chief among them.

Using data from the Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022 report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 countries that are the largest exporters of arms. Countries are ranked on their share of total global arms exports from 2018 to 2022. 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 40% of global arms exports, is home to 12 of the 25 largest defense contractors in the world, including Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin – the three largest. China, which is fourth among the world’s exporters, has seven companies in the top 25. (These are the companies profiting most from war.)

The largest recipients of arms from these major exporters are a reflection of the strategic alliances of these countries. The United States’ largest export partner is Saudi Arabia, a controversial long-time partner to the U.S. in the Middle East. In one 2017 deal, the Trump administration sold over $110 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia to support its campaign to combat Houthi fighters in Yemen. 

Japan and Australia, 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 nations selling the most weapons and who their clients are.

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