US extends lead in global arms exports, study shows

STOCKHOLM — The United States has strengthened its position as the world’s top arms seller over the past five years, providing 34 percent of total arms exports, a Swedish-based research institute said Monday.

In its latest overview of global arms transfers, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said US arms exports increased by 25 percent in the 2013-2017 period, compared with 2008-2012.

US exports in the period 2008-2012 accounted for 30 percent of the world total.

“Based on deals signed during the (former US President Barack) Obama administration, US arms deliveries in 2013-2017 reached their highest level since the late 1990s,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “These deals and further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the United States remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years.”

According to the study, US arms exports in the 2013-2017 period were 58-percent higher than those of Russia, the second largest arms exporter in that period.

During the 2013-2017 period, the United States sold arms to at least 98 countries, SIPRI said. A large portion of US exports comprised combat and transport aircraft.

Exports to the Middle East accounted for 49 percent of total US arms sales over the previous five years, while Saudi Arabia was the single most important US export market, totaling almost one-fifth of US sales.