Saudi Arabia tops India as world’s largest weapons importer, UAE fourth

Saudi Arabia became the largest importer of defence equipment last year, surpassing India, consultants IHS said.

Inbound shipments jumped 54 per cent in 2014 when Saudi Arabia also became the top trading partner with the US, the biggest exporter, Englewood, Colorado-based IHS said in a report Sunday.

Saudi Arabia will import 52 per cent more defence equipment this year, to $9.8 billion, it said. Boeing was the top company exporter last year, followed by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, according to the report.

Global defence trade rose for a sixth consecutive year to $64.4bn, with demand from emerging economies for military aircraft, IHS said. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the fourth-largest importer, spent $8.6bn on defence systems last year, more than Western Europe combined, IHS said.

“Growth in Saudi Arabia has been dramatic,” Ben Moores, senior defense analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defence & Security, said in the report. “An escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific” helped drive global demand, he said.

India and China followed Saudi Arabia in the list of top importers. Russia’s exports are expected to drop from a record in 2015 with major programmes closing and falling oil prices affecting clients such as Iran and Venezuela, IHS said.

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