Sales of the world’s hundred largest arms companies increased 1.3% in real terms in 2020 compared to the previous year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released this Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Studies Institute (SIPRI). The total sales figure amounted to 531,000 million dollars (469,251 million euros), after six consecutive years of increases.
“Industry giants were largely protected by sustained demand from governments for military goods and services,” the report notes. “In many parts of the world, military spending grew and some governments accelerated payments to industry to mitigate the impact of the crisis,” writes SIPRI.
Despite the general increase, the pandemic caused some companies to suffer disruptions in the supply chain and delays in deliveries and others suffered drops in sales due to landfills, as was the case with France’s Thales. The United States maintained its world hegemony: the 41 companies in this country included in the top 100 accounted for 54% of total sales, with 285,000 million dollars (251,858 million euros), 1.9% more year-on-year.
As has been the case since 2018, the top five companies in the top 100 are American: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, in descending order. The US arms industry is going through a wave of mergers and acquisitions, especially in the space sector, highlights SIPRI, citing the example of Northrop and KBR.
The five Chinese companies included in the classification sold for a value of 66,800 million (59,032 million euros), which represents 13% of the total and 1.5% more year-on-year. The study explains that Chinese firms have benefited from the modernization programs promoted by Beijing and the focus on military-civil fusion, becoming “one of the most advanced producers of military technology in the world.”
The joint sale of the nine Russian companies in the top 100 fell 6.5% annually to 28.2 billion (24.921 million euros), following the downward trend that began in 2017, due to the end of the state weapons program and delays caused by the pandemic. Twenty-six European firms appear in the classification, with total sales of 109,000 million dollars (96,325 million euros), 21% of the world total.
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Navantia remains the only Spanish company in the top hundred, dropping from position 78 to 84 and with sales of 1,180 million (1,043 million euros), 10% less year-on-year.