Weapons or medicine? Report shows that even during pandemic, governments helped weapon firms profit

WION Web Team
Stockholm, Sweden Published: Dec 06, 2021, 02:37 PM(IST)

Weapon manufacturers continued to profit as governments have continued to buy weapons during the pandemic, with some countries also took measures to help their big weapons manufacturers. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

As a whole, the 100 largest weapons firms saw their profits increase by 1.3 per cent to $531 billion in 2019, despite the global economy contracting by more than three per cent

A report published on Monday shows that the world's largest weapons manufacturers avoided the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 and had profits rise for the sixth time in a row last year.

This is because governments have continued to buy weapons during the pandemic, and some countries also took measures to help their big weapons manufacturers, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Also read | Next outbreak could be worse, warns Oxford vaccine maker

As a whole, the 100 largest weapons firms saw their profits increase by 1.3 per cent to $531 billion in 2019, despite the global economy contracting by more than three per cent.

"Military manufacturers were largely shielded by sustained government demand for military goods and services," said SIPRI researcher Alexandra Marksteiner in the institute's annual assessment of arms companies.

"In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis."

With 58.2 billion dollars in sales, Lockheed Martin, the maker of F-35 fighter jets and various types of missiles, maintained its first place with sales of $58.2 billion.

Also read | French climber pockets $169,000 gems he found in 2013

BAE Systems, in sixth place, was the highest-ranking European company, ahead of three Chinese companies.

China on the rise
"The rise of China as a major arms producer has been driven by its aim to become more self-reliant in weapons production and by the implementation of ambitious modernisation programmes," the report said.

Even though China has increased its arms sales, they still trail US and British firms. In 2020, Chinese firms will account for 13 per cent of the top 100 arms sales.

A total of $66.8 billion in sales was recorded by the top five Chinese companies in 2020, an increase of 1.5 per cent over the previous year.

Watch | Gravitas: The Pandemic didn't impact Global Arms Industry

"In recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from the country's military modernisation programmes and focus on military–civil fusion," SIPRI senior researcher Nan Tian said.

"They have become some of the most advanced military technology producers in the world."

The only two top-producing countries that saw a decline in arms business last year were France and Russia.

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App