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Trends in international arms transfers

The 29 NATO countries account for 52 percent of global military spending. Including the countries cooperating and maneuvering with NATO such as Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Georgia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sweden and others, the figure is close to 70 percent.

But the rest of the world is also largely upgraded by the West. Especially in crisis areas. As the Stockholm Peace Research Institute SIPRI published in March in a fact Sheet, “Trends in International Arms Transfers”, 2019, 60 percent of all global arms exports come from the US (36%) and the EU (24%), more precisely: from the arms forges of these regions. SIPRI compares five-year periods in order to level annual fluctuations as far as possible: here 2010 to 2014 with 2015 to 2019.

Trends in international arms transfers

With a share of well over a third (34%), the USA is by far the largest arms dealer in the world. While the country has a deep red deficit in the civilian trade balance, it has a huge surplus in the “balance of death”: the 34% world share of arms exports is matched by a 2% arms import ratio.

Russia, whose share has decreased from 27% to 21%, is still in second place among arms exporters. The decrease of 18 percent is due to reduced arms shipments to India. 55% of arms exports went to the three main recipients: India, China and Algeria.

After third place France (7.9% share), Germany (5.8%) comes fourth, ahead of China (5.5%). The top five countries supply almost three quarters (74.2%) of all weapons that legally cross borders. Among the top 20 are 12 NATO countries as exporters, with a total share of 62.3%.

USA and France: Massive increase in arms exports

Particularly striking are the growth rates of some countries. While the average increase in 2015-2019 compared to the previous five – year period was 5.5%, the US arms manufacturers expanded their dominance with an increase of 23 percent. The USA alone equips half the world: 96 countries are supplied with weapons made in USA. Arms exports to the Middle East accounted for 51 percent of total U.S. arms exports. They increased by 79 percent in 2015-2019 compared to the period 2010 to 2014.

“Arms exports are part of the US foreign and security policy, which is why the US government is actively promoting them, “says SIPRI researcher Pieter D. Wezeman: according to the Clausewitz formula:“war is the mere continuation of politics by other means.” Because the USA primarily deliver to areas of tension and war. Half of US arms exports went to the Middle East, half of them to Saudi Arabia, the country that is waging a merciless war in Yemen. Conversely, Riyadh receives almost three-quarters (73%) of its arms imports from the USA; 13% from the UK, 4.3% from France. In addition, in 2019, the US government approved the sale of 59,000 guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was also part of the Yemen War Coalition and is also involved in the Libyan War, covers three quarters of its arms imports via the US and 11% via France.

Ten billion euros for a new German nuclear bomber

The US primarily supplies warplanes to the world, especially to the Middle East. But sales of US war jets are also increasing in western and Central Europe. As SIPRI reports, European states imported a total of 59 new US warplanes last year. At the end of 2019, however, the number for Import Orders was already 380 Jets (356 F-35 and 24 F-16).

It may be that a major German order is added. The Air Force wants to replace 90 Tornado bombers by 2025. But this is not about “normal” fighter Jets, but about the replacement of nuclear weapons carriers. These tornadoes were designed to carry and drop US atomic bombs-e.g. the 20 US atomic bombs stationed in Büchel – into the designated target areas as part of the” nuclear participation of Germany”. Pilots of the German tactical air force squadron 33 trained regularly with your Tornados the dropping of these bombs.

The military and the Ministry of Defence are now looking for a successor aircraft for these tornadoes, which are soon to be decommissioned. A choice of two manufacturers: the German-French Airbus group with a modified Eurofighter and the US group Boeing, with its military-Jet F-18. Originally, defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer wanted to decide in March whether the European group-or–, if necessary. also partly-the US-American co-bidder comes into play. The major order has a volume of 10 billion euros – in the initial approach!

Even more dramatic, in percentage terms, are the increases in France’s arms exports with an increase of 72 percent. The arms exports to the middle East were 363% higher than in 2010 -14. The Region took 52% of French arms exports.

The increase in Germany’s arms exports was also far above average at 17%. The German manufacturers of death also benefited from the increasing charging of the Middle East powder keg. A quarter (24%) of German arms exports went there. The Yemen Warriors UAE and Egypt are also among the recipients.

Dynamite in the powder keg

The Middle East powder keg was dangerously charged five times last year. The arms imports of the countries in this Region were 61 percent higher in 2015 – 19 than in 2010-2014.Saudi Arabia received more than a third (35%) of all arms transfers to this Region, Egypt 16%, UAE 9.7%, Iraq 9.7%, Qatar 9.6%. The USA supplied 53% of all arms imports in the Region, France 12%, Russia 11%.

A special role Israel plays in the middle East Region: it receives 2 percent of all global arms imports (+ 181%), but exports 3 percent of all weapons (+ 77%). According to Sipri, twice as many weapons were delivered to the Middle East from Germany in 2013 to 2017 than in the previous five-year period. Although the coalition agreement stipulates that Germany no longer authorizes arms exports to countries “as long as they are directly involved in the war in Yemen”.

Trends in international arms transfers

But it will continue to be approved and delivered.among the ten most important recipients of German arms exports, there were also two countries participating in the Saudi-led war alliance in 2019: Egypt and the UAE. Also delivered to the Yemeni Warriors Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain. In 2018, arms export permits worth more than 400 million dollars were issued for Saudi Arabia.

Rheinmetall benefits from the “Super-cycle”

While the automotive division at Rheinmetall is shrinking, the military business is running at full speed due to the “Super-Cycle” (CEO Arnin Pappberger) in the arms industry. Especially because many NATO countries see a” catch-up " and increase their arms budgets. But also because of increasing Rheinmetall Defence Exports to non-NATO countries, such as Australia (supply of Boxer wheeled tanks) and the Middle East. The Bundeswehr also places large orders, such as 1000 (!) Military trucks for logistics at the price of 382 million euros. Military sales of the Düsseldorf-based group increased by 7.6% and now account for more than half of Group sales. The armaments division’s profit rose by more than a third, to 343 million euros.