STOCKHOLM Feb 18 Arms sales by the 100 biggest
weapons makers fell for the first time since the mid-90s in 2011
as economies slowed and military equipment purchases were
reduced for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, a leading
think-tank said on Monday.
Sales totalled $410 billion, a 5-percent fall adjusted for
currency swings, from $411 billion in 2010, the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which carries
out independent research on international security, armaments
and disarmament said in a statement.
SIPRI, which has been compiling the list since 1989, does
not include Chinese-based firms due to lack of available data.
"Austerity policies and proposed and actual decreases in
military expenditure as well as postponements in weapons
programme procurement affected overall arms sales in North
America and Western Europe," it said in a statement.
"The drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and the sanctions on
arms transfers to Libya also played a role."
Spending fell for the first time since the mid-90's, when
defence spending had been falling after the end of the Cold War,
said Susan Jackson, a researcher at SIPRI.
Sales growth had already slowed in 2010, to 1 percent from 8
percent in 2009, as the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq
held back demand.
To the extent arms makers are affected by economic swings,
many are late-cyclical as they have long delivery times and
long-running contracts with governments.
Of the firms monitored by the group in 2011, 74 were based
in the United States and western Europe, generating 90 percent
of the sales, roughly unchanged from 2010.
The top spots were little changed from 2010 with U.S. firm
Lockheed Martin still the biggest, U.S. Boeing,
overtaking British BAE Systems as number two, and
General Dynamics overtaking Northrop Grumman as
SIPRI said a strong recent trend among big arms makers was
diversification into cyber-security - protecting computers and
networks against intrusions and attacks - as public spending in
this area remained a privileged area in Western countries
despite budget austerity.
"Diversifying into cybersecurity enables arms-producing
companies to widen their civilian customer base, e.g. to reach
governmental agencies or private operators of critical
infrastructures, and at the same time develop technical
competences for electronic warfare for the military market," it
In the 2002-2011 period, arms sales by the top 100 firms
grew 51 percent, SIPRI said.