Arms and defense-related sales were up again in 2016, the first time since 2010, to reach US $ 374.8 billion, according to a report released on Saturday.
The study, published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), reveals that total sales went up in 2016 by 1.9% over 2015, and a 38% jump since 2002, when SIPRI began to track corporate arms sales.
At the top of the list are American weapon companies, which posted sales of $ 217.2 billion, up by 4.0% YOY.
Among American companies, the giant Lockheed Martin leads the way; the world’s largest weapons maker saw its sales climb by 10.7 percent last year.
The company also bought the Sikorsky helicopter manufacturer at the end of 2015, and a higher order volume from the F-35 stealth fighter, developed by Lockheed, contributed to the company’s good fortune.
In Europe, weapon sales increased only slightly by 0.2% to US $ 91.6 billion, according to the SIPRI report.
The pace of growth in arms sales by Russian companies has slowed (sales still increased by 3.8% in 2016), mainly due to the economic difficulties the country has experienced.
US producers account for 57.9% of total sales worldwide, compared to 9.6% for UK companies, 7.1% for Russian companies and 5.0% for French companies.
In Korean peninsula, the sharp rise in tensions between North Korea and its southern neighbor has, for its part, greatly stimulated the weapon companies in the South; factories would be running at full speed to face any threat from the communist dictatorship armed with nuclear weapons according to the report.
The SIPRI report indicates that the South Korean arms industry saw its importance grow significantly from 2015 to 2016, with sales rising by 20.6% year-over-year.
Formerly a major purchaser of US military equipment, South Korea is now aiming to become a major arms exporter. Its missiles, howitzers, submarines and warplanes would be particularly popular in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.