BAE tops global arms sales

Posted on 12 Apr 2010 by The Manufacturer

With sales reaching $32.4bn in 2008, BAE Systems is the first non-US company to lead Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Top 100 list of arms-producing companies.

Following BAE in the top 5 are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics (all of the USA), according to new data on international arms production released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

In 2008, the world’s 100 largest arms-producing companies maintained the upward trend in their arms sales, which reached $385bn, an increase of $39bn over their arms sales in 2007. This is more than three times the size of the total development aid of OECD countries in 2008 ($120bn).

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 internationalisation of the arms industry and the attractiveness of the US market.”

The sales of the company’s Land and Armaments group almost doubled (from $7bn to $12bn), 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.

Almaz-Antei, a Russian producer of the S-300 and S-400 series of air defence systems, is the first Russian company to enter the top 20 — with $4.3bn in arms sales in 2008. Almaz-Antei has tripled its arms sales since 2003. “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,” says Jackson.

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.