U.S., China dominate arms market: report

December 08, 2020 12:00 am | Updated 03:45 am IST - Stockholm

American firms accounted for 61% of sales by the ‘Top 25’ manufacturers, ahead of China’s 15.7%

Race for dominance:A file photo of a military parade in Beijing. Sales of Chinese firms rose by almost 5% in 2019.AFPGREG BAKER

Race for dominance:A file photo of a military parade in Beijing. Sales of Chinese firms rose by almost 5% in 2019.AFPGREG BAKER

U.S. and Chinese companies dominated the global arms market in 2019, while West Asia made its first appearance among the 25 biggest weapons manufacturers, a report by the SIPRI research institute said on Monday.

The U.S. arms industry accounted for 61% of sales by the world’s “Top 25” manufacturers last year, ahead of China’s 15.7%, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Total sales by the “Top 25” rose by 8.5% to $361 billion, or 50 times the annual budget of the UN’s peacekeeping operations.

Top sellers

Six U..S companies and three Chinese firms were in the top 10, rounded out by Britain’s BAE Systems in seventh spot.

“China and the United States are the two biggest states in terms of global arms spending, with companies cut to size,” Lucie Beraud-Sudreau, director of SIPRI’s arms and military expenditure programme, told AFP.

The U.S. has dominated the market for decades, but for China — whose companies’ sales rose by almost 5% in 2019 — “this increase corresponds to the implementation of reforms to modernise the People’s Liberation Army underway since 2015,” she said.

U.S. companies Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics clinched the top five spots, while China’s AVIC, CETC and Norinco held spots six, eight and nine. U.S. group L3Harris Technologies was in 10th place.

“Europe remains a bit dispersed... but if you combine the European companies together you could have European companies the same size” as U.S. and Chinese manufacturers, Ms. Beraud-Sudreau noted.

Airbus (European, 13th in the ranking) and Thales (French, 14th) can meanwhile boast of having the strongest international presence — each is represented in 24 countries, ahead of U.S. Boeing.

West Asian surprise

“European companies are more internationalised” than others, Ms. Beraud-Sudreau said.

For the first time, a company from the West Asia made it into the “Top 25”: EDGE, of the United Arab Emirates, was formed by the consolidation of some 25 defence entities in 2019.

In 22nd spot, EDGE “is a good illustration of how the combination of high national demand for military products and services with a desire to become less dependent on foreign suppliers is driving the growth of arms companies in the Middle East,” SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.

SIPRI also noted that French group Dassault had shot up from 38th to 17th place, boosted by exports of its Rafale fighter jets in 2019.

Meanwhile, two Russian companies were also in the “Top 25”, Almaz-Antey in 15th spot and United Shipbuilding in 25th.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.