Global arms sales have risen for the first time in six years, according to a new survey.
Rising geopolitical tensions, particularly in South-East Asia, helped drive arms sales to $375bn in 2016 – the highest level since 2010.
The total for 2016 is 1.9% higher than the previous year, according to new international arms industry data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The figure – coming after five consecutive years of decline – represents a 38% increase since 2002, when SIPRI first started reporting arms sales.
Lockheed Martin up 11%
Arms sales by US companies in the SIPRI Top 100 rose to $217bn in 2016 – a 4% rise, with sales by Lockheed Martin – the world’s largest arms producer – rising by 11%.
The total share of US arms sales in the Top 100 was 58%. “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.
The combined arms sales of European companies in the Top 100 remained stable at a total of $92bn – an increase of 0.2% compared with 2015.
UK arms sales up
There were overall decreases in the arms sales of French and Italian companies, while companies in the UK and Germany recorded increases.
The UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU did not seem to have an impact on the arms sales of British companies, which rose by 2% in 2016.
BAE Systems, the fourth largest arms producer globally, was up by 0.4%, with the highest growth by a British company – 43% recorded by aerospace components manufacturer GKN.
BAE has just announced the sale of 24 Typhoon fighters to the Gulf state of Qatar.
The combined arms sales of Russian companies increased by just under 4%, accounting for 7% of the overall total of the Top 100.
In the emerging markets, South Korean defence companies saw a 20% rise in sales totaling $8.4bn, reflecting fears over the aggressive posturing of North Korea’s communist dictatorship.