Global sales of weapons of war declined for a fourth consecutive year in 2014, with sales by the top 100 arms-manufacturing countries amounting to $401 billion, a decrease of 1.5 percent over 2013, according to a report released Monday.
U.S. companies remained the biggest sellers of weaponry, with 54 percent of the world’s arms sales revenue. The top 10 arms sellers are based in the U.S. and Western Europe.
But Russian arms manufacturers saw a significant increase that defied the slide, according to the study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The institute found two more Russian companies entering the top 100 sellers, bringing the country’s total number up from nine to 11.
Russian arms sales were boosted by Moscow’s increased military spending and exports. Revenue growth for these companies was up nearly 50 percent, the report found, driven by purchases from India and China.
“Russian companies are riding the wave of increasing national military spending and exports. There are now 11 Russian companies in the Top 100 and their combined revenue growth over 2013–14 was 48.4 percent,” Siemon Wezeman, a senior SIPRI researcher, said in a press release.
Russia has a number of reliable customers for its weaponry, including the Syrian government, which has spent the last four years battling back a rebellion that started in 2011. But Wezeman told Agence France-Presse that Damascus’ demand isn’t behind the rise in Russian arms sales, since Syria can no longer afford to pay.
"The Russians basically say: you pay, then we deliver, otherwise we don't do it," Wezeman told AFP.
Russia entered the Syrian conflict last month with bombing missions against rebel forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus.
The world’s two biggest weapons manufacturers are U.S. companies: Boeing and Lockheed Martin, at second and first place respectively. Lockheed Martin’s sales increased by 3.9 percent to $37.5 billion in 2014, according to the report.
The upward trend for Lockheed Martin is set to continue, the researchers found.
“With the acquisition of helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in 2015, the gap between Lockheed Martin and other companies ranked in the Top 10 will widen even further next year,” said Aude Fleurant, the director of Arms and Military Expenditure program at SIPRI.
Ukrainian arms manufacturers saw the most precipitous fall, with sales slipping by 37 percent compared to 2013, following the start of a civil war between pro-Russian separatists and a Kiev government that signaled its affinity for the European Union.
“The noticeable decline in sales for Ukrainian companies was largely due to disruption caused by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the loss of the Russian market, and the fall in the value of the local currency,” Weizman said.