Six American Companies Sell The World Most Of Its Weapons

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Written by Staff

From FastCompany. Story by Terrence Guay.

The fast-rising wealth of emerging markets like India and countries in Africa that are gobbling up a growing share of weapons is rapidly changing the arms market, particularly as global instability seems to grow year after year.

The surge in conflicts involving non-state actors in Africa and the Middle East is also forcing more countries to stock up, creating more demand for tanks, advanced weapons systems, and especially light arms.

One of the features of the 21st century, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, has been the increasing number of rankings in which the U.S. is no longer No. 1. The title of top arms exporter, however, is not one of them—at least not yet.

The U.S. has maintained its No. 1 spot as the world’s top arms exporter almost every year since the Cold War ended.

The U.S. controlled 31 percent of the global market for weapons exports from 2010 to 2014, up from 29 percent from 2005 to 2009, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world’s best-known collector of defense spending and weapons trade statistics.

Russia came a close second with 27 percent, a significant increase from 22 percent in the prior period, followed by China, Germany, and France each with a 5-percent share of the arms market.

Six American companies placed among the top eight global firms, based on defense-related revenues. Lockheed Martin topped the list with $35 billion in arms sales, with Boeing in second place ($31 billion), Raytheon ($22 billion), Northrop Grumman ($20 billion), and General Dynamics ($19 billion) ranked fourth through sixth, while United Technologies ($12 billion) took eighth.

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As countries in Africa get richer, larger sums are being spent on defense, particularly weapons imported from the world’s largest producers.

Africa, which has experienced some of the world’s most impressive economic growth over the past decade, saw arms imports increase 45 percent over the past five years. Part of this is due to windfall revenues earned by oil-producing countries, while inter-state rivalries between Algeria and Morocco and intra-state conflicts in Nigeria and Cameroon drive additional demand.

Read more FastCompany.