The Western Armament Community

SIPRI Documents the West's Leading Role in Global Arms Build-Up

BERLIN (Own report) - The largest arms producers in the USA and Western Europe, including German companies, have further increased their already predominant share of global arms production, as can be seen in the analysis published yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI. SIPRI analyzed the sales of the world's Top 100 arms-producers and concluded that 83 percent of their output comes from 70 companies headquartered in countries of the self-proclaimed community of western values. Whereas the combined sales of the Top 100 arms companies have increased by 4.6 percent, compared to the preceding year, those of the US and West European companies have increased by around 5.2 percent. Currently the production of military hardware is also massively expanding in Germany. The armaments division of the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group was able to boost its sales by 11.8 percent in the first nine months of this year. The increase of defense budget is promising business in the billions. German arms exports are also rising dramatically.

83 Percent

The sales by the world's Top 100 arms-producers increased by 4.6 percent to reach a total of US $420 billion in 2018, according to the analysis published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI yesterday.[1] These figures exclude China, for which SIPRI does not have sufficient company data. According to SIPRI's estimates, ten Chinese arms companies are likely to be among the world's Top 100. Of the world's Top 100 arms producers, 70 have their headquarters in the USA or Europe (excluding Russia and Turkey). They account for 83 percent of the arms production of the worlds Top 100 arms producers. This means that the top companies of the West's armament community alone produced military hardware worth US $348 billion in 2018 - more than Denmark's total economic output. The global Top 100's, 27 companies based in Europe (excluding Russia and Turkey) had produced military hardware worth US $102 billion in 2018, 0.7 percent more than in 2017. On the other hand, the production of the ten Russian companies among the Top 100 decreased by 0.4 percent. Of the total Top 100 arms output their share is now at 8.6 percent - a tenth of the transatlantic share.

Cyclic Fluctuations

According to the SIPRI analysis, arms sales of the German companies listed among the world's Top 100 fell by 3.8 percent in 2018. This however, was largely due to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems' (TKMS) sharp slump in sales of warships from US $2.05 billion (2017) to US $1.65 billion (2018). SIPRI points out that such fluctuation is common for the naval industry because of the long production cycle of the extremely expensive warships. In the meantime, TKMS has received new orders promising attractive profits. It is participating in the production of five corvettes for the German navy (estimated, with the weapons systems at €2.5 billon) and with Brazil's Embraer to produce four corvettes for Brazil's navy - at a price of US $1.6 billion. TKMS sales also rose again, reaching €1.31 billion in the first nine months of 2019 alone. TKMS announced investments worth €250 million. Its "ambition is to be Europe's most modern naval company."[2]

On a Growth Course

Last year, other arms companies based in Germany could already significantly increase their sales. The Airbus group (ranking 7th on SIPRI's world scale), and with strong German participation, increased sales by nine percent in 2018. This was also the case for Germany's market leader, Rheinmetall. In 2018, according to SIPRI's calculations, the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall weapons manufacturer was able to increase its arms sales from the previous year's US $3.65 billion by 4.1 percent to US $3.8 billion and thereby pass from 26th to 22nd on SIPRI's world scale. This year, as well, the company's arms sector is continuing its growth. Already in the first nine months of 2019, it could increase its sales by 11.8 percent, while nearly doubling its results of operations - to €134 million.[3] Even their booked orders is rapidly increasing. In November, Rheinmetall announced that together with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), they had received orders for the production of Boxer 500 wheeled armored vehicles for the British Armed Forces, valued at approx. €2.6 billion.[4]

Arms, Arms, Arms

Germany’s arms industry is looking forward to golden days ahead. "We are benefiting from the backlog many countries have in their military provisions and from growing budgets, particularly also in Germany," Armin Papperger, Rheinmetall Board Chair was quoted saying.[5] This year, Germany's military budget has surpassed the €50 billion threshold for the first time in real terms - with the inclusion of resources hidden in the presumed civilian ministries’ budgets - and it is due to continue to massively increase. ( reported.[6]) In addition, the other NATO countries are arming at a rapid pace. According to NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, by 2020 alone, the acceleration of militarization will result in around US $130 billion more than was originally planned in military budgets. By 2024 that amount will reach US $400 billion. Germany's arms industry hopes to get a significant portion. Additional large sums will flow into the coffers of the German arms producers from the EU's specific projects. Experts, for example, are calculating that the Franco-German combat aircraft project will cost up to €100 billion alone.

Record-Breaking Arms Exports

German arms exports are already increasing rapidly. As was announced in November, the German government had authorized the export of around €7.4 billion worth of war material from January to October 2019, thereby nearly as much as in the entire record-breaking 2015, when arms exports valued at around €7.9 billion had been authorized by the government. German arms manufacturers are heavily profiting from NATO's arms buildup. Authorized weapons deliveries to NATO - and NATO-equivalent countries rose in value from €1.03 billion in the first 10 months of 2018 to around €3.21 billion during the same period in 2019. Hungary, alone, was granted authorization to import €1.76 billion in German war material, particularly including Leopard 2 combat tanks and tank howitzer 2000s. Egypt ranked second among German military hardware customers (€800 million), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (with €200 million) sixth. The military, in power in Cairo since July 2013, is accused of serious human rights violations, including mass incarceration of dissidents and the disappearance of more than 1,500 people.[8] The UAE and their regional allies, on the other hand, are using weapons and other war material supplied by German companies to Abu Dhabi, also for their notorious wars in Libya and Yemen. ( reported.[9])


[1] The SIPRI Top 100 Arms-Producing and Military Services Companies, 2018. SIPRI Fact Sheet. December 2019.

[2] ThyssenKrupp to invest $279 million at shipbuilding division.

[3] Quartalsfinanzbericht zum 30. September 2019.

[4] Großbritannien bestellt über 500 Boxer im Wert von 2,6 MrdEUR. 08.11.2019.

[5] Quartalsfinanzbericht zum 30. September 2019.

[6] See also Minimalkonsens Aufrüstung.

[7] See also Führungskampf in der EU-Rüstungsindustrie.

[8] See also Mubarak 2.0 (II).

[9] See also Die Schlacht um Al Hudaydah (II) and Arabische Waffenbrüder.