China’s heavy investments in the defense industry appears to be paying off with Beijing dominating the global arms market in 2019 while Russia is losing ground.
Total sales by the top 25 rose by 8.5% to $361 billion, or 50 times the annual budget of the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations. The United States is still number 1, accounting for 61% of sales by the world’s top 25 manufacturers last year, way ahead of China’s 16%, a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report published Monday reveals.
In 2019, the top five arms companies were all based in the U.S. - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. These five together registered $166 billion in annual arms sales. In total, 12 U.S. companies appear in the top 25 for 2019, accounting for 61% of the combined arms sales of the top 25.
The largest absolute increase in arms revenue was registered by Lockheed Martin: $5.1 billion, equivalent to 11% in real terms.
Chinese companies that made its way to the global top 25 are Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC; ranked 6th), China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC; ranked 8th), China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO; ranked 9th), and China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC; ranked 24th). Their combined revenue grew by 4.8% between 2018 and 2019.
“Chinese arms companies are benefiting from military modernization programmes for the People’s Liberation Army,” SIPRI Senior Researcher Nan Tian said.
The only two Russian companies in the list - S-400 missile system manufacturer Almaz-Antey in 15th spot and United Shipbuilding in 25th - accounted for 3.9% of 2019 arms sales. The revenues of the two firms both decreased between 2018 and 2019, by a combined total of $634 million. A third Russian company, United Aircraft, lost $1.3 billion in sales and dropped out of the top 25 in 2019.
Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher at SIPRI, said: “Domestic competition and reduced government spending on fleet modernization were two of the main challenges for United Shipbuilding in 2019.”
For the first time, a Middle Eastern firm appears in the top 25 ranking. EDGE, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was created in 2019 from the merger of more than 25 smaller companies. It ranks at number 22 and accounted for 1.3% of total arms sales of the top 25.