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Global Arms Sales Up By 4.6%, Led By US Companies: Report

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A 4.6 percent increase in arms sales was recorded last year, with U.S. companies dominating the global market.

Sales of arms and military services by the sector's largest 100 companies totaled $420 billion in 2018, according to a new report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The report does not include the share of Chinese companies due to the lack of data to make a reliable estimate, SIPRI says.

For the first time since 2002, the top five spots in the ranking are held exclusively by U.S.-based arms companies. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics alone accounted for 35 per cent of the total arms sales in 2018, amounting to $148 billion.

In all, 59 percent of arms to global customers were sold by U.S. manufacturers. Their 2018 annual turnover of $246 billion is 7.2 percent more than what was recorded in the previous year.

A key development in the US arms industry in 2018 was the growing trend in consolidations among some of the largest arms producers.

The report cites the examples of Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, which made multi-billion-dollar acquisitions in 2018.

Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI's Arms and Military Expenditure Program, said that U.S. companies are preparing for the new arms modernization program that was announced in 2017 by President Donald Trump. "Large U.S. companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and therefore be in a better position to win contracts from the U.S. Government," he added.

The combined arms sales of the 27 European companies in the Top 100 increased marginally in 2018, to $102 billion. U.S. and European companies made substantial growth in arms sales at the cost of Russia, according to the report.

The combined arms sales of the 10 Russian companies in the 2018 ranking were $36.2 billion - a marginal decrease of 0.4 per cent on 2017. Their share of total Top 100 arms sales fell from 9.7 per cent in 2017 to 8.6 per cent in 2018.

Almaz-Antey was the only Russian company ranked in the top 10, and accounted for 27 per cent of the total arms sales of Russian companies in the Top 100.

This increase was due to strong domestic demand and continued growth in sales to other countries, particularly of the S-400 air defense system.

Despite a 4.8 per cent fall in arms sales, UK-based companies remained the highest in Europe. BAE Systems is the world's largest arms producer outside of the United States.

Arms sales of French companies increased last year.

Eighty of the 100 top arms producers in 2018 were based in the United states, Europe and Russia, the report said.

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