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U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons at air show hosted by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. July 26, 2014. (Photo: Justin Connaher/flickr/cc)

Still Leading Pack, US Arms Exporters Extract Increasing Profits From Foreign Conflict Zones

New study finds US is top driving global uptick in arms transfers

Sarah Lazare

As the number-one exporter of major arms world-wide, the United States is extracting ever-increasing profits from the global rise in war and military escalation, a new study by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) finds.

Between 2010 and 2014, global conventional weapons transfers jumped 16 percent as compared to 2005-2009, the researchers found.

The U.S. alone accounted for 31 percent of international weapons exports from 2010 to 2014. During this time the U.S. was the world's top supplier, delivering "major weapons to at least 94 recipients," the study finds.

Researchers note that American weapons exporters are casting a wide net that reaches far beyond the U.S. military.

"The [U.S.] has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the U.S. arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing U.S. military expenditure," said Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program," in a press statement.

As conflict and tensions sweep the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, these markets are booming.

The Asia Pacific region was the top importer of U.S. arms between from 2010 to 2014, followed by the Middle East and then Europe. In each of these regions, U.S. shipments accounted for a significant proportion of national imports.

For example, the U.S. was behind 47 percent of all weapons supplies to the Middle East between from 2010 to 2014. During this time, Saudi Arabia hiked its volume of weapons imports by four times as compared to 2005 to 2009—making it the number two arms importer in the world, the report notes.

"Mainly with arms from the USA and Europe, the [Gulf Cooperation Council] states have rapidly expanded and modernized their militaries," said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program, in a press statement. "The GCC states, along with Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Turkey in the wider Middle East, are scheduled to receive further large orders of major arms in the coming years."

The report follows a study released last week by IHS Inc. which found that the U.S. exports of military equipment and weapons is booming—driven by rising conflict and tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

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