The five countries that are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China, and these countries dominate the global weapons industry as the top five manufacturers and distributors of weapons.
While it is certainly the right of every country and every individual to protect themselves from those who would harm them, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty seeks to limit the spread of arms to protect people living in all regions of the world.
And as “boys will be boys,” there are organizations such as the World Piece Foundation (WPF) to police the arms industry and root out corruption that could lead to the indiscriminate use of weapons.
Global Weapons Industry is Huge
The global arms or weapons industry, also known as the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry, manufactures and sells military technology and equipment with annual sales of nearly $2 trillion a year.
According to Richard F. Grimmett in “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,” the industry churns out a variety of technologies to sell to developing nations including:
- light, medium, and heavy tanks, self-propelled artillery, and self-propelled assault guns
- field and air defense artillery, mortars, rocket launchers, and recoilless rifles
- armored and amphibious personnel carriers (APCs), armored infantry fighting vehicles, and armored reconnaissance and command vehicles
- aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and frigates
- minesweepers, sub chasers, motor torpedo boats, patrol craft, and motor gunboats
- submarines, including midget submarines
- Guided missile patrol boats
- supersonic and subsonic combat aircraft, including fighter and bomber aircraft
- helicopters for combat and transport
- surface to air missiles and ground-based air defense missiles
- surface-to-surface missiles
- anti-ship missiles
According to the 2016 Global Aerospace and Defense Industry Outlook from Deloitte, arms and weapon technology sales are expected to grow in coming years in part due to the increasing national security threat posed by terrorists groups and increasing tensions in major regions of the world such as Asia and the Middle East where countries are jockeying for control of territory and natural resources.
Traditional weapon producers including the US, Germany, France, and the UK are now being joined by new weapon manufacturers China, India, Brazil, the Middle East, and others. Within the last two years, China has overtaken Germany as the number three weapons producer behind the US and Russia.
The following documentary, “The International Arms Trade Shows No Signs of Slowing,” is an overview of this topic.