The upstart British manufacturer BAE is no longer the world’s largest producer of killing machines, killing machine-accessories and killing-related services. That great honor, once again, belongs to an American company, Lockheed Martin.
This is according to SIPRI, a Swedish organization that researches something called “peace” (peas? appeasement?). Today, SIPRI releases its latest annual “top 100″ list of arms producers. War Is Business obtained an advance copy of some of the findings, which I’ll present below.
Contrary to some other recent reports on the “health” of the arms trade, SIPRI identifies the weapons business as somewhat recession-proof—at least through 2009.
According to SIPRI researcher Susan Jackson, “US government spending on military goods and services is a key factor in arms sales increases.”
“Despite the continuing global economic recession in 2009, the total arms sales of the SIPRI Top 100…increased by $14.8 billion from 2008 to reach $401 billion in 2009, a real increase of 8 per cent,” Jackson says in the press release.
Of course, a different methodology could produce a different result. SIPRI defines arms sales “as sales of military goods and services to military customers, including both sales for domestic procurement and sales for export.” The inclusion of domestic procurement figures makes SIPRI’s numbers somewhat higher than other measures, but probably more reflective of actual military spending trends around the world.
Unfortunately, SIPRI’s arms industry database omits a rising player, China, which is beginning to export firearms and explosives like they’re cheap plastic toys.
That, and the exclusion of private armies, mercenary firms, militias and other non-state customers, mean that SIPRI’s totals are, on balance, significantly lowballed.
Regardless of those limitations, this is valuable research.
Top 10 Global Arms Producers (SIPRI 2009)
About the top 10, SIPRI notes the following:
* If BAE Systems’ US-based subsidiary (BAE Systems, Inc.) were a parent company, its arms sales would place it at 7th in the Top 100 for 2009. Its 2009 arms sales were $19 280 m.
** EADS’ shareholder structure is: 22.46% Sogeade (Lagadere and French state holding company); 22.46% Daimler (% represents voting rights); 5.48% SEPI (Spanish state holding company); 0.06% the French state (shares held out of contractual partnership); 49.12% institutional, retail and employee ownership; and 0.39% Treasury shares (without economic or voting rights). EADS is headquartered in the Netherlands.
Here’s another table SIPRI released in advance of the full report. It’s interesting how heavily invested many of these companies are in the war business. Most would be financially crippled in the event of some lasting peace.
Top Western European Arms Producers (SIPRI 2009)
|Company||Arms sales||Arms sales as percentage of revenue|
|Babcock International Group||$2,010,000,000||68|
|MTU Aero Engines||$740,000,000||20|
|Avio (Cinven, UK)||$670,000,000||28|
Of the full top 100:
• 45 companies are based in the US
• 33 in Western Europe
• 10 in Asia, and
• 7 in the Middle East
Notably, all of those top Asian and Middle Eastern producers are in countries allied with the US: Japan (4), Israel and India (3 apiece), South Korea (2), Kuwait, Singapore and Turkey (1 apiece).