Abu Dhabi’s defence group Edge has become the first company from the Middle East to rank in the top 25 companies worldwide for global sales of military equipment and services, according to new data.
Edge, which was created through the merger of more than 25 smaller companies last year, is now the 22nd-biggest company in the world in terms of domestic and foreign arms sales, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said.
“Edge is a good illustration of how the combination of high national demand for military products and services with a desire to become less dependent on foreign suppliers is driving the growth of arms companies in the Middle East,” Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher of Sipri’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, said.
The data from Sipri’s Arms Industry Database showed sales by the defence industry’s 25 biggest companies rose by 8.5 per cent last year to $361 billion.
The top five arms companies globally are all based in the US – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. Between them, they generated $166bn in annual sales.
Some 12 of the top 25 companies in the rankings were from the US, accounting for 61 per cent of the $361bn generated by the top 25. Four Chinese companies made the rankings – three of which were in the top 10. Aviation Industry Corporation of China ranked sixth, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation was eighth and China North Industries Group Corporation, or Norinco, was ninth.
Chinese arms companies’ sales grew 4.8 per cent and “are benefitting from military modernisation programmes for the People’s Liberation Army”, Sipri senior researcher Nan Tian said. Chinese defence companies generated 16 per cent of the top 25’s combined sales.
The revenues of the two Russian companies in the top 25 – Almaz-Antey and United Shipbuilding – decreased by a combined $634 million between 2018 and 2019, Sipri said. A third Russian company, United Aircraft, lost $1.3bn in sales and dropped out of the top 25.
“Domestic competition and reduced government spending on fleet modernisation were two of the main challenges for United Shipbuilding in 2019,” researcher Alexandra Kuimova said.
There were also six companies from Western Europe that accounted for 18 per cent of sales. France’s Dassault Aviation Group reported the biggest annual percentage increase in sales – up 105 per cent during the year – as it exported a large number of its Rafale combat aircraft to customers.