The global military arms giants were left virtually unharmed last year by the economic crisis triggered by the new coronavirus pandemic, setting a new sales record for the sixth consecutive year, a report released Monday reveals.
The turnover of the 100 largest defense groups reached $ 531 billion (€ 470 billion) in 2020, with more than half of those companies based in the United States, according to a report by the Institute. Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI).
The sum of international arms and military sales increased by 1.3%, while the global economy was shrinking by more than 3%, according to the Sweden-based institute, which produces the field reference work.
The turnover of the 100 largest arms groups has been growing steadily since 2015: in total, it has reached 17%, according to SIPRI.
With the exception of a few Russian (down 6.5%) and French (-7.7%) groups, other countries saw their companies grow in sales last year.
Five American giants once again monopolize the top positions in the world rankings: Lockheed-Martin (F-35 fighter jets, missiles, etc.) established itself in first place, with sales of $ 58.2 billion, ahead of Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics.
The British BAE Systems is in the highest position among the European groups (6th), followed by Airbus (11th). The Chinese Norinco (7th), AVIC (8th), CETC (9th) and the American L3 Harris (10th) complete the top ten.
According to the institute, the fact that the big arms companies coped with the unfavorable situation of 2020 is mainly explained by the fiscal support policies in the face of the pandemic and the effects of the restrictive measures imposed to stop it.
However, the sector has not shown complete immunity to the pandemic, especially in terms of the industrial dimension. “In several cases, the measures taken to stop the spread of the virus have caused problems in supply chains and delayed deliveries,” SIPRI notes.
This was the case, according to the report, in the case of Thales, the French company – with the exception of Airbus – which occupies the highest position in the ranking (14th), as due to the restrictive measures it saw a drop in its turnover by 6%.
Behind the top 41 US companies and their market share of 54%, 26 European companies secured 21% of total sales. They were followed by Chinese (13% of the total, five companies) and Russian (5%, nine companies).
In the case of several groups that also have political activities, such as Boeing and Airbus, only the sale of military equipment by SIPRI was calculated.