Defence industry records growth during pandemic

Despite weakening global economic performance in the context of the pandemic, the world's 100 largest defence companies continue to post rising profits.

The Stockholm-based peace research institute SIPRI published its report for 2021, showing that the world's 100 largest arms companies increased their sales for the sixth year in a row, unchecked by the pandemic. Since 2015, the industry has grown by a total of 17 per cent.

$531 billion worth of defence equipment sold

SIPRI reports that the world's one hundred largest arms manufacturers sold $531 billion worth of weapons systems and military services in 2020 - an increase of 1.3 per cent over the previous year. Alexandra Marksteiner of the Sipri programme speaks of a "sustained demand by governments for military goods and services". Thus, military spending has increased in many parts of the world, and some governments have even accelerated payments to the defence industry to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

Hensholdt drone group grows by 7.9 per cent

The four German companies represented in the ranking sold defence equipment worth 8.9 billion US dollars in 2020. While Thyssen-Krupp and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann reported minus figures, defence sales of the electronics group Hensoldt grew by 7.9 per cent. Among other things, the group supplies technology for the Turkish killer drones of the Bayraktar TB2 type, which are used in the war in Kurdistan. Rheinmetall, the largest German arms producer, also grew by 5.2 per cent. It now ranks 27th on the global top 100 list.

US companies continue to dominate the rankings

US corporations top the arms manufacturers' rankings with defence sales of US$285 billion - up 1.9 per cent year-on-year - accounting for 54 per cent of the total. As of 2018, the top five arms companies are all based in the United States.

This is followed by Chinese corporations. The five Chinese manufacturers represented in the ranking sold defence equipment worth 66.8 billion US dollars in 2020. This corresponds to an increase of 1.5 per cent compared to the previous year.

The 26 European defence companies together accounted for 21 per cent of the top 100's defence sales, or the equivalent of $109 billion. The seven UK firms reported defence sales of $37.5 billion in 2020, an annual increase of 6.2 per cent. BAE Systems' defence sales - the only European manufacturer in the top ten - increased by 6.6 per cent, to $24.0 billion.