SIPRI: U.S., UK, France and Italy Continue to Lead the World’s Defense Market


The total arms sales of the world’s top 100 largest arms producing companies has increased by $39 billion in 2008, to reach $385 billion; BAE Systems was rated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) as the world’s largest arms-producing companies. Four U.S. companies are trailing BAE in the top 5 positions – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics. SIPRI published today its annual report listing the world’s 100 largest arms-producing companies. The institute estimates the global arms market (excluding China) at $3.85 trillion in 2008, an increase of $39 billion over their arms sales estimate in 2007.

‘BAE Systems’ move to first place in the Top 100 is notable for a variety of reasons’, says SIPRI arms industry expert Dr Susan Jackson. ‘The company is based in the UK, but does more than half of its business in the USA. BAE really shows the increasing internationalization of the arms industry and the attractiveness of the US market.’ The sales of the company’s Land and Armaments group almost doubled (from $7 billion to $12 billion), a large part of which is due to sales to the US Government of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

US-based Navistar entered the SIPRI Top 100 in 20th place, with arms sales of $3.9 billion to the US Department of Defense in 2008. This figure represents a dramatic increase of 960 per cent in its defense sales, up from $368 million in 2007. Navistar’s main driver of defense business was the MaxxPro Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicles delivered to the U.S. Army fulfilling urgent operational requirement. Another company thet entered the Top-20 list was Russian Almaz-Antei, producer of the S-300 and S-400 series of air defense systems. Almaz Nateu is the first Russian company to enter the top 20 with $4.3 billion in arms sales in 2008, attributed mostly to S-300 systems sold to a number of countries, among them China, Algeria, Lybia and Venezuela. Almaz-Antei has tripled its arms sales since 2003. One of the most talked about deals, with Iran has not been completed yet.

‘The continued upswing in many Russian arms-producing companies is the combined effect of longer term increases in exports and the more recent increases in domestic arms procurement,’ states Jackson.

In 2008 the wars in Afghani­stan and Iraq continued to heavily influence sales of military equipment such as armored vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters. In parallel, sales of logistical services, repair and refurbishment of military equipment continued to grow, as did the arms sales of Russian companies to both domestic and for­eign customers.

According to the report, the world’s largest arms producer is the U.S. with more than $25.5 billion worth of arms sales (domestic and export), followed by the U.K sales of 58 billion (much of this is attributed to BAE systems, of which U.S. based companies are making a significant of its portfolio) France is third, with an arms market of 29 Billion, followed by Italy with +15 Billion, Germany and Russia (+10B each), Israel, Spain and Japan (+6B each), India, Republic of Korea and others.

The SIPRI Arms Industry Database was created in 1989. It contains financial and employment data on arms-producing companies in the OECD and developing countries (except China). Since 1990, SIPRI has published data on the arms sales and employment of the 100 largest of these arms-producing companies in the SIPRI Yearbook.