SIPRI: BAE Systems global arms sales top dog in 2008

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BAE Systems has become the first non-US company to lead SIPRI’s Top 100 list of the largest arms-producing companies. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says the British group, which has a significant South African footprint, topped its log for 2008, the latest year it has data for, with sales reaching $32.4 billion.

Below BAE Systems in the “top five” are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics (all of the USA).

SIPRI adds that in 2008, the world’s 100 largest arms-producing companies maintained the upward trend in their sales, which reached $385 billion, an increase of $39 billion over 2007. But it notes this is more than three times the size of the total devoted to development aid by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states in 2008 ($120 billion).
“BAE Systems’ move to first place in the Top 100 is notable for a variety of reasons”, says SIPRI arms industry expert Dr Susan Jackson. “The company is based in the UK, but does more than half of its business in the US. BAE really shows the increasing internationalisation of the arms industry and the attractiveness of the US market.”

The sales of the company’s Land and Armaments group almost doubled (from $7 billion to $12 billion), a large part of which is due to sales to the US Government of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of these were manufactured by BAE Systems’ South African operation in Benoni, east of Johannesburg. 

US-based Navistar entered the SIPRI Top 100 in 20th place, with arms sales of $3.9 billion to the US Department of Defense in 2008. This is an increase of 960% compared to its arms sales of $368 million in 2007. Navistar’s arms sales are primarily due to the US Government’s purchases of M-ATV armoured vehicles deployed in the war in Afghanistan.

Russian Almaz-Antei, producer of the S-300 and S-400 series of air defence missile systems, is the first Russian company to enter the top 20 with $4.3 billion in arms sales in 2008. Almaz-Antei has tripled its arms sales since 2003. “‘The continued upswing in many Russian arms-producing companies is the combined effect of longer term increases in exports and the more recent increases in domestic arms procurement,” states Jackson.

Of the companies in the “Top 100” for 2008 45 are North American companies (all but one of them US-headquartered), accounting for 60% of the world’s arms sales; 34 are West European, accounting for 32% of arms sales; seven are Russian, accounting for 3% of arms sales; and the remainder are from Japan, Israel, India, South Korea and Singapore. No South African company made it onto the list. The “Top 10” are:

Rank 2008

Rank 2007

Company

Sales 2008

US$M

Sales 2007

US$M

Arms sales

as share of

total sales,

2008 (%)

1

2

BAE Systems

32 420

29 860

95

2

3

Lockheed Martin

29 880

29 400

70

3

1

Boeing

29 200

30 480

48

4

4

Northrop Grumman

26 090

24 600

77

5

5

General Dynamics

22 780

21 520

78

6

6

Raytheon

21 030

19 540

91

7

7

EADS

17 900

13 100

28

8

9

Finmeccanica

13 240

9 850

53

9

8

L-3 Communications

12 160

11 240

82

10

10

Thales

10 760

9 350



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