World’s biggest arms firms increased sales in 2020, despite pandemic

Copenhagen, Dec 6 (EFE).- Sales of the world’s 100 largest arms companies increased by 1.3 percent in real terms in 2020 compared to the previous year despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.

Total sales amounted to $531 billion in 2020, the six consecutive year of growth for the industry.

“The industry giants were largely shielded by sustained government demand for military goods and services,” Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program, said in the report.

“In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis,” she added.

Despite the overall increase, the pandemic led some companies to report supply chain disruptions and delays in deliveries while others saw a drop in sales due to pandemic-induced lockdowns, as was the case with French arms manufacturer, Thales.

The United States maintained its global hegemony with the 41 US companies included in the top 100 accounting for 54 percent, or $285 billion, of the top 100’s total sales, a year-on-year increase of 1.9 percent.

Since 2018, the top five companies in the top 100 have been American: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, in descending order.

The US arms industry is experiencing a wave of mergers and acquisitions, especially in the space sector, SIPRI highlights, citing the examples of Northrop Grumman and KBR, which Marksteiner notes “have acquired high-value firms specialized in space technology in recent years.”

The five Chinese companies included in the ranking recorded sales worth $66.8 billion, 13 percent of the total and 1.5 percent more than in 2019. It comes behind the US in Top 100 arms sales in 2020, and ahead of the United Kingdom.

“In recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from the country’s military modernization programs and focus on military-civil fusion,” SIPRI senior researcher Dr Nan Tian said. “They have become some of the most advanced military technology producers in the world.”

The combined sales of the nine Russian companies in the top 100 fell by 6.5 percent year-on-year to $28.2 billion, continuing the downward trend that began in 2017, and coinciding with the end of the state armament program and delivery delays caused by the pandemic.

Twenty-six European firms appear in the ranking, with total sales of $109 billion, 21 percent of total arms sales. EFE


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