- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2018

While the U.S. remains the world’s clear leader, Russia is making major strides in arms sales and last year passed the U.K. to become the world’s second-largest weapons producer, according to a comprehensive new study examining top international arms companies.

The detailed report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found a huge jump in the production and sales of Russian arms companies in 2017, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the entire global market. The SIPRI study looked at the world’s top 100 arms-production companies and ranked nations based on those companies’ growth and sales figures.

Analysts said the jump is the direct result of increased spending by Moscow on military modernization, creating a fertile sales climate for Russian arms companies.

“Russian companies have experienced significant growth in their arms sales since 2011,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with SIPRI. “This is in line with Russia’s increased spending on arms procurement to modernize its armed forces.”

Ten Russian companies are listed in SIPRI’s list of the top 100 global arms manufacturers. The combined arms sales of those 10 companies rose 8.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, hitting $37.7 billion last year.

The top 100 arms companies worldwide had combined sales of $398.2 billion, the report found.

The growth in Russian sales catapulted the country past the U.K., which had been the world’s No. 2 arms producer since 2002. The U.K. remains the largest weapons producer in Europe and had seven companies listed in the top 10 worth $35.7 billion in sales.

But the U.S., not surprisingly, remains by far the world’s leader. The U.S. has 42 companies in the top 100 globally, the SIPRI study said, accounting for 57 percent of total arms sales worldwide, or about $226 billion.

Lockheed Martin remained the world’s largest producer, with 2017 sales of about $45 billion. Lockheed and other top U.S. companies are routinely awarded lucrative Pentagon contracts.

“U.S. companies directly benefit from the U.S. Department of Defense’s ongoing demand for weapons,’ said Aude Fleurant, director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

“The gap between Lockheed Martin and Boeing — the two largest arms producers in the world — increased from $11 billion in 2016 to $18 billion in 2017,” Ms. Fleurant continued.

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