US firms dominate as 2018 global arms spend rises to $420 billion

A soldier fires a Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live fire exercise.

U.S. Army National Guard

U.S. firms dominate a newly published list of arms and military services spend in 2018, accounting for well over half of global sales.

The findings, published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday, also calculated that the combined global sales from the world’s 100 biggest defense firms totaled $420 billion during 2018.

The figure, a 4.6% rise on SIPRI’s 2017 estimate, does not include sales from Chinese firms due to what the institute describes as a lack of reliable data.

For the first time since 2002, U.S. companies occupied all five top spots. Lockheed Martin kept its title as the world’s largest arms seller, accounting for 11% of global sales.

SIPRI said Lockheed Martin’s arms sales exceeded $47 billion, boosted by a ramping up of deliveries of the F-35 fighter jet.

Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics rounded out the top five spots. Combined, these U.S. firms accounted for more than a third of global military spend in 2018 — at an estimated value of $148 billion.

Revenue for all the 43 U.S. firms in the list adds up to $246 billion, around 59% of all arms sales by the top 100 firms.

Looking elsewhere, the 10 Russian defense companies on the list managed to almost maintain their 2017 figure — selling $36.2 billion worth of military equipment and services.

Almaz-Antey was the only Russian firm to make the top 10 list with the state-owned company having a particular focus on anti-aircraft defense systems.

Combined arms sales of 27 European firms in the top 100 increased slightly in 2018 to $102 billion. U.K. firms accounted for $35.1 billion in 2018, the highest of the European nations.

U.K.-based BAE Systems came sixth in the top 100 list of sales, making it the largest arms seller outside of the United States in 2018.

Eighty of the 100 top arms producers in 2018 were based in the U.S., Europe and Russia. Of the remaining 20, SIPRI said six were based in Japan, three each for Israel, India and South Korea, two in Turkey and one each for Australia, Canada and Singapore.

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