Killer Facts: The scale of the global arms trade

Transfers of heavy conventional weapons

The top 10 exporters of conventional arms (excluding small arms/ light weapons – SALW) 2010-15

USA                     US$55.006 billion

Russia                  US$42.404 billion

China                   US$9.943 billion

Germany              US$ 9.467 billion

France                 US$ 8.932 billion

UK                       US$ 7.627 billion

Spain                   US$ 5.310 billion

Italy                     US$ 4.360 billion

Ukraine                 US$ 4.156 billion

Israel                    US$ 3.280 billion

The top 10 importers of conventional arms (excluding SALWs) 2010-15

India                      US$23.124 billion

Saudi Arabia           US$11.002 billion

China                     US$7.726 billion

UAE                       US$7.156 billion

Pakistan                 US$6.899 billion

Australia                 US$6.711 billion

Turkey                    US$5.410 billion

US                          US$5.220 billion

South Korea             US$5.011 billion

Singapore                US$4.344 billion

[Source: SIPRI]

Between 1992 and 2015, the United States reported transfers of heavy conventional weapons to the UN Register of Conventional Arms totalling:

  • 5,570 Battle tanks

  • 12,208 Armoured combat vehicles

  • 4,097 Large-calibre artillery system

  • 1,686 Combat aircrafts

  • 672 Attack helicopters

  • 51 Warships

  • 24,841 Missiles and missile launchers

The Russian Federation reported the following totals for the same period:

  • 1,294 Battle tanks

  • 4,052 Armoured combat vehicles

  • 1,637 Large-calibre artillery system

  • 664 Combat aircrafts

  • 604 Attack helicopters

  • 36 Warships

  • 26,809 Missiles and missile launchers

[Source: UN Register of Conventional Arms]

Military expenditure

  • Total global military expenditure increased from US$1.14 trillion in 2001 to $US1.76 trillion in 2015, a rise of 50%.

  • Military expenditure in the Middle East has grown from $US130 billion to $US181 billion from 2008-2014

  • Military expenditure in the Asia/Oceania increased from $US311 billion to $US450 billion from 2008-2015

  • In 2015, Saudi Arabia spent the equivalent of 13.7% of its GDP on arms; in the same year South Sudan spent 13.8% of GDP on arms.

[Source: SIPRI]

Top companies

  • Total arms sales from the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in the world (excluding China) rose by 104% from 2002-2013 and in 2013 stood at US$401 billion.

  • The top 10 arms companies on this list made profits of over US$26 billion in 2014.

[Source: SIPRI – figures in constant 2011 prices/exchange rates excluding small arms/light weapons]

Armed violence

  • Just under 500 people a day die from firearm homicide worldwide[Source: UNODC Global study on homicide 2013] – most in non-conflict settings. In addition, an estimated 2,000 more are injured.[Source: Small Arms Survey]

  • At least 2 million people around the world are living with firearm injuries in non-conflict settings; millions more suffer the profound psychological effects that firearms violence brings to individuals, families and the wider community. [Source: Small Arms Survey]

  • An estimated three-quarters of all small arms in the world are privately owned – approximately 650 million out of 875 million as of 2007, though the numbers are likely to have grown since then.[Source: Small Arms Survey]

  • 41% of all homicides are committed with firearms, rising to 66% in the Americas. [Source: UNODC Global report on homicide]

Small arms

  • The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms registered the export of 1,808,904 firearms in 2013 – a considerable underestimate since only 25 Member States reported data on firearms. A more accurate estimate of the annual international trade in firearms is at least 4.6 million firearms. [Source: Small Arms Survey]

  • The number of firearms in civilian hands in the USA is approximately one per head of population.

  • From 2010-13 states reporting to the UNODC registered seizures of over 700,000 illicit firearms and 100 million rounds of ammunition.[Source: UNODC]

  • Eight million new small arms and up to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are estimated to be manufactured worldwide each year;

  • The authorised international trade in small arms and ammunition is estimated to be more than US$7.1 billion annually. [Source:]

Historical Small Arms Estimates from Small Arms Survey:

  • 35–100 million AK-pattern weapons were produced since the 1950s until 2015

  • 8–12 million AR-15 rifles and derivatives were produced from the 1960s onwards (Bevan, 2013).

  • Approximately 17 million Lee Enfield-series rifles and at least 7 million G3-pattern rifles have been produced to date (Bevan, 2014).

Cluster munitions – from 2015 Cluster Munitions Monitor

  • At least 23 governments have used cluster munitions in conflicts around the world since the end of World War II. As of mid-2015, there were 25 countries still contaminated by cluster munition remnants.

  • On the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008, a total of 91 states stockpiled millions of cluster munitions containing more than 1 billion submunitions. Since then, 27 States Parties have destroyed 1.3 million cluster munitions and 160 million submunitions – 90% of submunitions declared as stockpiled by States Parties.

[Source: Cluster Munitions Monitor 2015]