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17th Jan 2021

EU arms trade booming despite crisis

Firms in the UK, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Europe's own European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company made around €75 billion from selling weapons in 2010.

In broader terms, the world arms trade is booming and has increased turnover by 147 percent since 2002, with companies based in western Europe and North America leading the sector.

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  • The global financial crisis has done nothing to curb arms sales (Photo: Wikipedia)

In 2010 - two years after the eruption of the global financial crisis - some €305.6 billion of arms and weapons were sold on international markets according to a report released on Monday (27 February) by Swedish arms control NGO, the Stockholm International Research Institute (Sipri).

"The data for 2010 demonstrates, once again, the major players' ability to continue selling arms and military services despite the financial crises currently affecting other industries," Sirpi's Susan Jackson said.

Some companies did register a drop in sales.

"Change is likely not due to the financial crisis but rather because of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and the subsequent expected decrease in related equipment sales," she added.

The Sipri covers industrialised states in the Paris-based OECD club and many developing countries. China and some others, like Kazakhstan and Ukraine, are not included due to lack of reliable information.

Leading the list are companies based in the United States, UK, Italy and France, but the NGO suspects that China would also make the top ranking if data was available.

US firm Lockheed Martin ranks first. It sold around €26 billion of aircraft, electronics, missiles and military satellite defense systems in 2010, up from €24.5 billion in 2009.

Lockheed is currently developing the fifth generation of the F-35 jet fighter along with US-based Northrop Gumman and the UK's BAE Systems.

"The F-35 is expected to be one of the largest military aircraft programmes in history, including thousands of aircraft to be produced for world air forces over several decades," says Lockheed's website says.

Upon completion, the United States alone intends to purchase almost 2,500 F-35s, costing some €240 billion. At peak production, Lockheed says it will be able to manufacture around 20 F-35s per month.

BAE Systems ranks second on the Sipri list. In 2010, it sold €24.3 billion of missiles, military vehicles, small arms and ammunition, up from €24.1 billion in 2009.

"BAE Systems has delivered a robust underlying performance in a challenging business environment," BAE Systems chief executive Ian King said on 16 February.

King added that the company intends to expand its cyber and electronics business and to develop its military services sector.

The Sipri report points out that 48 percent of the firm's total sales were generated in the services market - including systems support, training, logistics, maintenance, repair and overhaul.

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