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Russia overtakes UK to become world’s second biggest arms producer

US still tops list of biggest weapons dealers, increased sales to $226.6 billion last year

Russia has overtaken the United Kingdom to become the world’s second biggest arms producer behind the United States, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report published on Monday, December 10.

“Russian companies have experienced significant growth in their arms sales since 2011,” SIPRI senior researcher Siemon Wezeman said in a statement.

“This is in line with Russia’s increased spending on arms procurement to modernize its armed forces.”

Russia had 10 companies in SIPRI’s list of the world’s “Top 100” arms-producing and military services companies in 2017, accounting for 9.5 percent of sales. The 10 companies’ sales totaled $37.7 billion (€33 billion), SIPRI said.

That put Russia in second place, a position that had been held by the U.K. since 2002.

The United States topped the list with 42 companies and sales up by two percent to $226.6 billion – accounting for 57 percent of the Top 100’s arms sales.

“U.S. companies directly benefit from the U.S. Department of Defense’s ongoing demand for weapons,” said Aude Fleurant, the director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

U.S. company Lockheed Martin remained the world’s largest arms producer in 2017, with sales of $44.9 billion, the think tank said.

For the first time, a Russian company appeared in the list of the top 10 arms producers: Almaz-Antey, which increased its sales by 17 percent in 2017 to $8.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the U.K., the largest arms producer in Western Europe, fell to third position, with sales of $35.7 billion. BAE Systems is ranked the fourth-biggest company in SIPRI’s Top 100 list.

Also in the top 10 were Airbus, France’s Thales and Italian company Leonardo.

Sales of arms and services by the top 100 companies totaled $398.2 billion last year, an increase of 2.5 percent over 2016, and a 44 percent increase since 2002, the first year for which data is available, SIPRI said.

Taken together, the arms sales of the four Indian companies ranked in the Top 100 totalled $7.5 billion in 2017, representing a 1.9 per cent share of Top 100 arms sales.

Arms sales by the top four companies in India – Indian Ordnance Factories, Hindustan Aeronautics, Bharat Electronics, and Bharat Dynamics – totaled $7.5 billion, or 1.9 percent of the top 100.

The institute also noted that sales by Turkish companies rose by 24 percent in 2017, reflecting Ankara’s “ambitions to develop its arms industry to fulfill its growing demand for weapons and become less dependent on foreign suppliers,” another SIPRI researcher, Pieter Wezeman, said.

Turkey’s top arms producer for the year, ASELSAN, had $142 million in sales, compared to $120 million the previous year.

The figures exclude China, for which figures are not available, SIPRI noted.

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With reporting from AFP

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