Despite the problems in their supply chains due to the corona pandemic, the top 100 weapons manufacturers managed to increase their sales of weapons systems and military services again last year. Their turnover was approximately US$ 600 billion (EUR 569.37 billion). That’s an increase of 1.9 percent compared to 2020, according to a report from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.
There could have been an even greater increase had it not been for the epidemic-related supply shortages that persisted after 2020 and into 2021, Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, director of the military spending and weapons production program at SIPRI, said in a press release. While growth is still well below pre-Corona (an annual average increase of 3.7 percent from 2016 to 2020), it is still higher than in 2019 to 2020 (1.1 percent). Since 2015 – SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) top Chinese companies – arms sales of the top 100 manufacturers have increased by 19 percent.
Since Russia is one of the largest producers of raw materials for weapons production, the Swedish institute has also undertaken cuts in supply chains for 2022. According to the researchers, this could thwart US and European plans to strengthen their armed forces and replenish stocks emptied by the Ukraine war.
Although Russian companies were able to increase their production due to the war (US$ 17.8 billion/plus 0.4 percent), they had difficulties in obtaining semiconductors and were partially affected by the sanctions. Nine Russian companies continue to be represented in the top 100 of the largest armaments companies in 2020, while there were only six companies in the previous year, and SIPRI attributes this only to incomplete data.
All five of the world’s largest defense companies are based in the United States as of 2018. Overall, 40 of the top 100 arms manufacturers sold weapons and military services from the United States, with a total value of US$299 billion last year. North America was the only region in the world to record a slight decline (minus 0.8 percent) in 2021 due to high inflation in the US.
In 2021, 27 of the top 100 companies were headquartered in Europe. According to SIPRI, they achieved a total turnover of USD 123 billion in 2021, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to the previous year. Eight companies in the top 100 are located in the UK and five in France. Europe’s largest armament company remained Germany-based Rheinmetall (31st place worldwide). Three so-called trans-European companies, including Airbus and MBDA, were also among the top 100 worldwide.
Asian manufacturers increased their sales by 5.8 percent compared to 2020. Chinese companies, eight of the top 100 worldwide, grew even 6.3 percent ($109 billion in sales).