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The United States is behind one-third of all equipment and weapons exports world-wide, finds new study by IHS Inc. (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Shannon Collins/Public Domain)

US Weapons Exporters Lead World in War Profiteering

New study finds booming business driven by 'an escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific'

Sarah Lazare

U.S. weapons exporters lead the world in profits from the booming military arms and equipment business, driven by rising tensions and conflict around the world, according to a new report from London-based analysts.

The annual study by IHS Inc.—which looks at military markets in 65 nations, excluding small arms, munitions, and surveillance programs—finds that the United States is behind one-third of all equipment and weapons exports world-wide.

This is no small amount: in 2014, global "defense" trade surpassed $64.4 billion, the report finds.

"Defense trade rose by a landmark 13.4 percent over the past year," said Ben Moores, senior defense analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defense and Security, in a press statement. "This record figure has been driven by unparalleled demand from the emerging economies for military aircraft and an escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific."

The U.S., further, is the top profiteer from rising conflict across the Middle East, accounting for $8.4 billion in exports to this region in 2014, compared to $6 billion the previous year.

Meanwhile, U.S. allies in the expanding war against ISIS are boosting their weapons imports significantly.

Saudi Arabia blew past India to become the number one weapons and military equipment importer in the world. Analysts predict that, in 2015, Saudi Arabia will account for one of every seven dollars spent on such imports.

Furthermore, United Arab Emirates was included in the top five weapons exporters in the world.

Employing a cold business calculus, Moores said the 2014 track record forecasts more military conflict—and profits—to come.

"When we look at the likely export addressable opportunities at a global level for the defense industry, five of the 10 leading countries are from the Middle East," Moores said. "The Middle East is the biggest regional market and there are $110 billion in opportunities in coming decade."


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