Picture courtesy: DW

Compiled By: Gp Capt Kumar Kirinde, SLAF [retd]

The arms industry, also known as the defence industry, military industry, or the
arms trade, is a global industry which manufactures and sells weapons and
military technology. Public sector and private sector firms conduct research
and development, engineering, production, and servicing of military material,
equipment, and facilities. Customers are the armed forces of states, and
civilians. The arms industry also provides other logistical and operational
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the
five largest arms exporters in 2018–22 were the United States, Russia,
France, China and Germany. Together, they supplied 76% of the world’s arms
exports during the said period.
Many industrialized countries have a domestic arms industry to supply their
own military forces. Some countries also have a substantial legal or illegal
domestic trade in weapons for use by their own citizens, primarily for selfdefense, hunting or sporting purposes. (Illegal) small arms trade occurs in
many countries and regions affected by political instability. The Small Arms
Survey estimates that 875 million small arms circulate worldwide, produced
by more than 1,000 companies from nearly 100 countries.

The modern arms industry emerged in the second half of the nineteenth
century as a product of the creation and expansion of the first large military–
industrial companies. During this period, England, France, Sweden and the
Netherlands became self-sufficient in arms production.
As smaller countries (and even newly industrializing countries like Russia and
Japan) could no longer produce cutting-edge military equipment with their
indigenous resources and capacity, they increasingly began to contract the
manufacture of military equipment, such as battleships, artillery pieces and
rifles to foreign firms.
In 1854, the British government awarded a contract to the Elswick Ordnance
Company owned by William Armstrong, an English engineer and industrialist,
to supply the latest breech loading rifled artillery pieces.

This galvanized the private sector into weapons production, with the surplus
increasingly exported to foreign countries. William Armstrong became one of
the first international arms dealers, selling his systems to governments across
the world from Brazil to Japan. 1884, he opened a shipyard at Elswick to
specialize in warship production – at the time, it was the only factory in the
world that could build a battleship and arm it completely. The factory produced
warships for many navies, including the Imperial Japanese Navy.

In the American Civil War in 1861 the North had about ten times the
manufacturing capacity of the economy of the Confederate States of America.
This advantage over the South included the ability to produce (in relatively
small numbers) breech-loading rifles for use against the muzzle-loading rifled
muskets of the South. This began the transition to industrially produced
mechanized weapons such as the Gatling gun, a rapid-firing multiple-barrel
firearm invented in 1861 by Richard Jordan Gatling.

This industrial innovation in the defense industry was adopted by Prussia in its
1864, 1866 and 1870–71 defeats of Denmark, Austria and France respectively.
By this time the machine gun had begun entering arsenals*. The first examples
of its effectiveness were in 1899 during the Boer War and in 1905 during the
Russo-Japanese War. However, Germany led the innovation of weapons and
this advantage in the weapons of World War I nearly defeated the allies.

  • An arsenal is a place where arms and ammunition – whether privately or publicly owned –
    are made, maintained and repaired, stored, or issued, in any combination. Products of the
    arms industry include weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, military communications
    and other electronics, and more.
    Due to the carnage of World War I, arms traders began to be regarded with
    odium as “merchants of death” and were accused of having instigated and
    perpetuated the war in order to maximize their profits from arms sales.

The volume of the arms trade greatly increased during the 20th century, and it
began to be used as a political tool, especially during the Cold War where the
United States and the USSR supplied weapons to their proxies across the
world, particularly third world countries.

Land-based weapons
This category includes everything from small arms, light weapons to heavy
artillery and tanks. International trade in handguns, machine guns, tanks,
armored personnel carriers is substantial. There is relatively little regulation at
the international level, and as a result, many weapons fall into the hands of
organized crime, rebel forces, terrorists, or regimes under sanctions.
The Control Arms Campaign, founded by Amnesty International, Oxfam, and
the International Action Network on Small Arms, estimated in 2003 that there
are over 639 million small arms in circulation, and that over 1,135 companies
based in more than 98 countries manufacture small arms as well as their
various components and ammunition.

Aerospace systems
Encompassing military aircraft (both land-based and naval aviation),
conventional missiles, and military satellites and ground based air defence
systems, this is the most technologically advanced sector of the market. It is
also the least competitive from an economic standpoint, with a handful of
companies dominating the entire market. The top clients and major producers
are virtually all located in the western world and Russia, with the United States
easily in the first place. Prominent aerospace firms include Rolls-Royce, BAE
Systems, Saab AB, Dassault Aviation, Sukhoi, Mikoyan, EADS, Leonardo,
Thales Group, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, RTX Corporation, and
Boeing. There are also several multinational consortia mostly involved in the
manufacturing of fighter jets, such as the Eurofighter.

The largest military contract in history, signed in October 2001, involved the
development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a development and acquisition
program intended to replace a wide range of existing fighter, strike, and ground
attack aircraft for the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada,
Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway,

Naval systems
Several of the world’s great powers maintain substantial naval forces to
provide a global presence, with the largest nations possessing aircraft carriers,
nuclear submarines and advanced anti-air defense systems. The vast majority
of military ships are conventionally powered, but some are nuclear-powered.
There is also a large global market in second-hand naval vessels, generally
purchased by developing countries from Western governments.

Cybersecurity Industry
The cybersecurity industry which encompasses Computer security, Cyberarms industry, and Cyberwarfare is expected to be of increasing importance to
defense, intelligence and homeland security agencies.

  • Computer Security – is the protection of computer systems and
    networks from attacks by malicious actors that may result in
    unauthorized information disclosure, theft of, or damage to hardware,
    software, or data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the
    services they provide.
  • Cyber-Arms Industry – markets and associated events surrounding the
    sale of software exploits, zero-days, cyberweaponry, surveillance
    technologies, and related tools for perpetrating cyberattacks.
  • Cyberwarfare – use of cyber-attacks against an enemy state, causing
    comparable harm to actual warfare and/or disrupting vital computer

International arms transfers
The five biggest arms exporters in 2010–2014 were the United States, Russia,
China, Germany and France, and the five biggest arms importers were India,
Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. In 2014 – 2018 the
composition of the five largest exporters of arms remained unchanged. They
were responsible for 75 percent of all arms exports. During the said period the
top five arms importers changed to Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and
Algeria and they accounted for 35 percent of total arms imports in 2014–18.

Arms control
Arms control refers to international restrictions upon the development,
production, stockpiling, proliferation and usage of small arms, conventional
weapons, and weapons of mass destruction. It is typically exercised through
the use of diplomacy, which seeks to persuade governments to accept such
limitations through agreements and treaties, although it may also be forced
upon non-consenting governments.

  • Global weapons sales from 1950 to 2006
  • Geneva Protocol on chemical and biological weapons, 1925
  • Outer Space Treaty, signed and entered into force 1967
  • Biological Weapons Convention, signed 1972, entered into force 1975
  • Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), 1987
  • Chemical Weapons Convention, signed 1993, entered into force 1997
  • Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel land mines, signed 1997, entered into
    force 1999
  • New START Treaty, signed by Russia and the United States in April 2010,
    entered into force in February 2011
  • Arms Trade Treaty, concluded in 2013, entered into force on 24
    December 2014.

In 2022, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated
global military expenditure at $2.24 trillion, the highest level ever recorded by
SIPRI. Global spending grew by 19 per cent over the decade 2013–22 and has
risen every year since 2015. The combined arms-sales of the top 100 largest
arms-producing companies and military services companies totaled $597
billion in 2022, according to SIPRI. According to the institute, the five largest
arms exporters United States, Russia, France, China and Germany in 2010-
2018 continued to be so in 2018–22. Together, they supplied 76% of the world’s
arms exports during this period.


and Google Images and is a compilation done by Gp Capt Kumar Kirinde, SLAF [retd]