Global spending on defence rose by four per cent in 2019, the largest growth in 10 years, a study said on Friday.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) released figures from its survey of military capabilities at the Munich Security Conference.
The big drivers were the United States and China with both increasing spending by 6.6%.
Beijing's military modernisation programme - which includes developing new hard-to-detect hypersonic missiles - is alarming Washington and helping drive US defence spending, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said.
The IISS's annual "Military Balance" report said the increase alone in US spending from 2018 to 2019 - $53.4 billion - was almost as big as Britain's entire defence budget.
The report concluded that defence spending in Europe reached levels not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis, increasing by 4.2% compared with 2018.
European Nato members have been seeking to increase spending to placate President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused them of freeloading on the US.
Mr Trump has railed at European allies, particularly Germany, for not living up to a 2014 Nato pledge to spend two percent of GDP on defence.
The president's anger over spending has fuelled concern about his commitment to the transatlantic alliance, culminating in an explosive 2018 summit where he launched a blistering public attack on Germany in a televised meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.