Sales of the world’s 100 largest weapons manufacturers continue to increase despite a shrinking global economy in 2020 due to the new crown, with U.S. companies accounting for the top share of the total, followed by China, a new study shows.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calculates that sales of the world’s top 100 weapons manufacturers total $531 billion in 2020, more than the economic output of Belgium and a 1.3 percent increase in real terms compared to the previous year.
Industry giants are largely protected by continued government demand for military products and services,” said Alexandra Marksteiner, researcher in SIPRI’s Military Spending and Arms Production Program. In much of the world, military spending has increased and some governments have even accelerated payments to the arms industry to mitigate the effects of the new crown crisis.”
Nonetheless, doing business in the military market does not guarantee protection from the pandemic. French weapons manufacturer Thales, for example, attributed a 5.8 percent drop in weapons sales to disruptions caused by the spring 2020 embargo. Some companies also reported supply chain disruptions and delivery delays.
The U.S. again had the largest number of the top 100 arms manufacturers. 41 U.S. arms companies accounted for $285 billion in total arms sales, up 1.9 percent from 2019, or 54 percent of the 100 companies’ total sales. Since 2018, the top five companies in the top 100 in total arms sales are all located in the United States.
In 2020, the five Chinese companies in the top 100 will account for an estimated $66.8 billion in total arms sales, or 13 percent of the 100 companies’ total sales, second only to U.S. companies and ahead of British companies that account for the third largest share, up 1.5 percent from 2019.
SIPRI experts believe that in recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from China’s military modernization program and civil-military integration and have stepped into the ranks of the world’s most advanced military technology producers.
In addition, the 26 European arms companies in the Top 100 together account for 21 percent of total arms sales, or $109 billion. The seven British companies will have $37.5 billion in arms sales in 2020, a 6.2 percent increase over 2019. The only European company in the top 10, Bayeux Systems Ltd, saw its arms sales increase by 6.6 percent to $24 billion.
In 2020, the four German companies in the top 100 had arms sales of $8.9 billion, up 1.3 percent from 2019. Together, these companies account for 1.7 percent of the total arms sales of the Top 100.
Total arms sales for the nine Russian companies in the top 100 decline from $28.2 billion in 2019 to $26.4 billion in 2020, representing 5.0 percent of total arms sales for the top 100 weapons manufacturers, a 6.5 percent decrease, continuing a downward trend since 2017.