In the movie Ironman, Stark Industries may be one of the biggest suppliers of advanced weapons and defense technologies worldwide but in reality, did you ever wonder who the biggest exporter of military weapons in the world is?
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released the latest data about the “Trends in International Arms Transfers.” A comparative study about the improvements in global weapons exports value was presented between the periods of 2003-2007 and 2008-2012.
From 2008-2012, the five biggest weapons exporters accounted to 75% of the volume of global arms exports. One of the biggest surprises in the latest international transfers of weapons trend was China’s displacement of the United Kingdom as the fifth arms exporter in the world. The UK usually plays within the third to fifth spot since the 1950’s until China took over dropping UK to number six.
Most of the exporter’s weapons are delivered to the Asian and Oceania regions with India as its largest recipient. Here is the list of the top 10 weapons exporting countries in the world:
Ukraine has a state-owned weapons exporter named Ukrspecexport. Its import and export sales rose by 2% in 2011. The company has contracts with 78 countries. According to the Ukrspecexport, it was their best performance in over their 16 years of work. Ukraine’s weapons exports account to 47% in Asia followed by Africa with 23%, Europe with 6% and the Americas with only 3%.
Sweden’s weapons exports value in Europe dropped by 30% in 2012 due to the reduction of cost for buying military materials and the unsteady economic state in Europe. Further, Sweden was able to complete its several major contracts on systems sales to India, Pakistan and Thailand. The military equipment exported to these countries was the JAS 39 Gripen, Erieye and the Combat Vehicle 90. While Sweden’s export in Europe and North America decreased, there was a sharp increase in exports to Asia and the Middle East by 44%. Sweden’s largest recipient was India followed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Thailand.
Israel is known for having the most advanced defense industries in the Middle East, which justifies its place in the top ten weapon exporting countries in the world. The country’s defense equipment export rose to 20% due to a major arms deal with Italy. Israel is also eyeing an increase in export sales to Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Poland.
Italy has a major arms deal with Israel where the country promised to buy at least 1 billion dollars worth of Israeli military equipment. In return, Israel will be purchasing thirty Italian M-346 Master jets. Italy’s deal with Israel is important especially that its economy is unstable.
6. United Kingdom
Formerly included in the top five largest weapon exporters, the United Kingdom was displaced by China for the first time since SIRP conducted the study in the 1950’s. Countries supplied by the UK include the United States, Middle East, Africa, India and other NATO partners. The country became the first weapons trading power to support an Arms Trade Treaty for human rights. However, the UK supplied arms to countries where there is a high risk of using the weapons to commit internal violence.
China toppled the UK for the fifth spot as one of the five largest weapons exporter in the world. China’s volume of weapon exports rose by 162%. It was the first time for the communist country to be included in the top five. Its biggest weapons recipient was Pakistan accounting for 55%. Pakistan belongs to the Asian region, which received 74% of its global weapon supplies together with Oceania while Africa received 13%.
France’s volume of weapon exports decreased by 18% between the periods of 2003-2007 and 2008-2012 due to the completion of deliveries of high value deals for naval, air and land systems made in the 2000’s. In addition, France was not able to deliver orders for high-value weapons systems at the end of 2012. The unfulfilled orders were 10 submarines for Brazil and India, 7 frigates for Malaysia and Morocco; and 175 combat aircraft for India. From 2008-2012, France supplied 54% of the volume of weapons export to Asia and Oceania, 14% to Europe and 13% to Africa.
There was also a decrease in German arms exports by 8% between the same periods. The country also completed its deliveries of high-value deals for naval and land systems in 2000’s. Thirty-five per cent of its weapon supplies are for Europe, 31% for Asia and Oceania and 17% for the Americas. Further, Saudi Arabia purchased 600 to 800 Leopard-2A7+ tanks, around 100 Dingo-2 armoured vehicles and Boxer armoured vehicles. Qatar also purchased up to 200 Leopard-2A7+ tanks. Germany and Algeria have outstanding deals to purchase weapons.
From 2008-2012, Sixty-five percept of the Russia’s arms exports were delivered to Asia and Oceania. The five largest recipients of Russia’s weapons are India, Africa (17%), Middle East (9%), China (5%) and Vietnam (5%). India still remains as the largest buyer of Russian weapon experts. Russia also supplied an estimate of 37 Su-30MK and Su-27S combat aircraft and missiles to Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Forty-six per cent of its exports were aircrafts while 20% were missiles. An estimate of 343 Mi-17 helicopters were delivered to 26 states including Asia and Oceania receiving 166 helicopters, the Americas with 57, Middle East with 48, Europe with 43 and Africa with 20 units.
1. The United States
The volume of arms exported by the United States to Asia and Oceania accounts to 45% while the Middle East receives 27 % and 18% for Europe. From 2008-2012, 62% of the volumes of U.S. supplies were aircrafts, which included of 49 combat aircrafts, two of which are F-35s delivered to the United Kingdom. Other significant recipients of the U.S. weapons are Iraq and Afghanistan receiving 4% each of the U.S. exports. The U.S. delivered a substantial number of light armoured vehicles, tanks and 36 F-16 combat aircrafts to Iraq.