China, France Or The UK – Which Country Has Pipped Russia To Emerge As World’s 2nd Largest Defence Exporter?

The United Kingdom has recently released the official statistics of its Defense and Security Export market for the year 2019, holding on to its position of being the second-largest defence exporter for consecutively two years, ahead of Russia.

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According to the report, the UK’s share of the global defence export market was estimated at 16% in 2019. The UK’s largest defence export markets were the Middle East, Europe and North America, worth 7.2 billion pounds.

The rise in the export market share is attributed to success in bagging several deals mainly involving the sales of fighter aircraft- the Eurofighter Typhoon, to Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

The sales of Hawk trainer aircraft to India was also mentioned, along with helicopter sales to Norway and South Korea, and Trent 700 aircraft engines to France.

An interesting mention of the revenue source is F-35 work with the United States, from which the UK has started received deliveries for the same.

The report also mentions some major global defence export deals, which include:

  • Russia – Lease of 6 x Akula submarines to India ($3.3 billion)

  • US to Saudi Arabia – Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships (MMSC) ($1.95 billion)

  • Brazil to Portugal – 5 x Embraer KC-390 multi-mission airlifters ($932 million)

  • Russia to Malaysia – Su-30MKM fighter aircraft refurbishment ($540 million)

  • US to Norway – 4 x P-8A aircraft ($595 million)

The statistics also revealed that 2018 had been the highest-expenditure year ever and that the global defence export market is estimated to have decreased from $100 billion in 2018 to just around $89 billion in 2019.

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While being the second-largest exporter, the United Kingdom was also the 10th largest importer of weapon systems, mainly involving the F-35 and UAV deals with the United States. Saudi Arabia and India still bag the top positions in the leading importers’ list.

These new reports reveal a major setback for Russia, which was considered to be one of the major arms exporters in the world after the United States, however, the trends have changed rapidly during the past five years.

While Washington retains its top position, the race for the second has been quite tough; in 2015 it was France, narrowly continuing its position the next year, while Russia came up as the second during 2017. Since then, the UK has maintained its second position according to the British reports.

In 2019, the US achieved a market share of approximately 47% (reflecting strong sales across all sectors), while the UK was at 16%, Russia at 11% and France at 10%.