Earth's top 100 defense companies have increased their global arms sales by nearly five percent over the past year. They sold armaments and military services totaling $ 420 billion in 2018 (around € 380 billion), according to the Stockholm-based peace research institute Sipri. This corresponded to an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the previous year. Especially the largest corporations contributed much to the growth according to Sipri. The report did not include goods from companies in China because they still do not have enough data to make reliable estimates.

Leaders in sales remain the US, according to the Sipri report. For the first time since 2002, corporations based in the United States occupy all five top positions among the leading defense companies: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics together sold 148 billion dollars worth of goods. In total, US companies spent $ 246 billion, representing 59 percent of all sales in the top 100 and up 7.2 percent from 2017.

Peace researchers see a trend in the USA in the fact that larger arms companies take over smaller companies. "US companies are preparing for the new arms modernization program that President Trump announced in 2017," said Sipri weapons expert Aude Fleurant. "Large US companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and thus be in a better position to win contracts from the US government."

German companies exported less

European companies contributed just under a quarter (24 percent) to worldwide arms sales. The 27 European arms producers listed sold $ 102 billion worth of goods, a slight increase of 0.7 percent.

By contrast, the figures of the four listed German companies decreased by 3.8 percent overall. Growing deliveries of military vehicles from Rheinmetall to the German Armed Forces are counteracting a decline in shipbuilding sales at ThyssenKrupp, said Sipri expert Pieter D. Wezeman. Thus, Germany has a share of 2.0 percent of the world's arms sales and ranks behind Italy, Japan and Israel, but ahead of India and South Korea. Airbus is listed as a "trans-European" concern in the Sipri evaluation because the company is based in more than one country.

Sales of British defense companies dropped by 4.8 percent, among other things due to delays in their country's arms modernization program, and French companies rose by 2.4 percent. Britain remains Europe's number one weapon vendor, followed by France. Arms sales from Russia remained almost unchanged: The top 10 Russian companies sold goods and services worth a total of $ 36.2 billion, a modest drop of 0.4 percent. Five of the companies reported growth, five losses.

As arms sales Sipri refers to any sale of military goods and services to military customers at home and abroad. According to the peace researchers, sales have increased by almost 47 percent since 2002.