Daily Management Review

Ten world's largest importers of weapons


Almost half of the US arms exports go to the Middle East countries. In particular, Saudi Arabia is one of the largest importers of American weapons. However, if you look at the situation on the global arena, then the indicators are somewhat different.

Nishant Vyas via flickr
Nishant Vyas via flickr
Many countries of the Middle East region were involved in armed conflicts in the period from 2013 to 2016. Consequently, the import of arms to the region has increased dramatically.

Experts from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) have prepared a study in which they indicated the largest arms importers between 1950 and 2017. The annual sales of weapons are measured in TIV (Trend-indicator value). This unit reflects changes in world arms exports and is calculated on the comparative technical characteristics of weapons, rather than on financial volumes.

Below we will talk about the largest importers of weapons in the world.

10. Iran

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 46.76

Iran has lived under sanctions for a long time: the country was suspected of developing nuclear weapons, because of which it was forbidden to import weapons. Nevertheless, if you look at the country in a broader perspective, Iran entered the top ten largest arms importers for the period from 1950 to 2017.

9. South Korea

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 51.80

South Korea is also among the ten largest importers. The main supplier of weapons to this country is the United States. They account for 80% of all arms shipments to South Korea. The next largest partner is Germany: its share in the import of arms of Korea is 13%. The third largest supplier of arms to South Korea is Sweden: it accounts for 2.2% of all supplies.

8. Iraq

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 53.26

The first arms shipments came to this Middle Eastern country from the USSR back in 1958. The total cost of contracts for the supply of arms from the USSR for the period from 1958 to 1990 was $ 30.5 billion in current prices. Now the cooperation with Russia continues. In particular, in 2015, Russia delivered to Iraq a party of heavy jet flamethrower systems.

7. Turkey

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 55.46

Staying in the top ten largest importer of weapons, Turkey nevertheless intends to completely abandon the import of defense products by 2023. This was stated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan at the opening of the IDEF-2015 exhibition. According to the head of state, Turkey produces 54% of all weapons. Yet, Erdogan's goal is to completely get rid of dependence on imports in the defense industry by 2023.

6. Saudi Arabia

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 61.78

Between 2011 and 2015, the region received almost two-thirds more weapons in comparison with the period from 2006 to 2010. Overall, arms imports have increased in all countries of the Middle East, but Saudi Arabia ranks sixth in terms of arms imports between 1950 and 2017. The main supplier of weapons to this country is the United States.

5. Japan

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 64.04

In 2014, the Government of Japan formally renounced its policy of actually prohibiting the export of weapons and military technology, which had been in effect for almost half a century. Instead, the Cabinet of Ministers took a special resolution to adopt new principles related to the supply of arms abroad. At the same time, Japan ranks fifth among the largest arms importers from 1950 to 2017.

4. Egypt

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 64.32

The US remains the main supplier of arms to Egypt (in particular, in 2011 the US sold to Egypt 45 tanks M-1A1 and agreed on the delivery of another 125 items).

3. China

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 77.30

China continues to build up its military capabilities both through the import of weapons and through domestic production.

2. Germany

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 86.80

The calculation of Germany's imports takes into account data for East and West Germany at a time when the country was divided into two parts. As a result, Germany was in second place in terms of import of weapons.

1. India

TIV from 1950 to 2017: 119.89

Imports of guns in India increased by 24% between 2008 and 2012 and from 2013 to 2017. This is primarily due to the fact that India maintains and intensifies tensions with neighboring Pakistan. Despite the fact that India has its own production of weapons, including Tejas fighters and Dhruv helicopters, the country imports a significant amount of weapons, including from Russia. The US is also supplying its weapons to India. The increase in imports from the US has been particularly noticeable in recent years; there were contracts for the delivery of anti-submarine Boeing P-8 Poseidon, helicopters AH-64E Apache and other weapons.