Arms sales worldwide nearly doubled since 2002

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The world's top 100 weapon producers have increased their global sales by 47% since 2002, a watchdog said Monday.

Their sales for 2018 totaled $420 billion, a 4.6% increase compared to the previous year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report.

The institute's database excludes Chinese companies due to the lack of data to make a reliable estimate.

"For the first time since 2002, the top five spots in the ranking are held exclusively by arms companies based in the U.S.: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics," the report said.

It said these five companies alone made up $148 billion and 35% of the total top 100 arms sales in 2018.

The total arms sales of U.S. companies in the ranking amounted to $246 billion, 59% of all arms sales in the list, an increase of 7.2% compared with 2017.

For example, two of the top five, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, made multibillion-dollar acquisitions in 2018.

"U.S. companies are preparing for the new arms modernization programme that was announced in 2017 by President [Donald] Trump,' said Aude Fleurant, director of SIPRI's Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

"Large U.S. companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and therefore be in a better position to win contracts from the U.S. Government," it added.

Data showed arms sales by Turkish companies listed in the ranking rose by 22% in 2018 to $2.8 billion.

At least 80 arms producers were based in the U.S., Europe and Russia.

"Of the remaining 20, six were based in Japan, three in Israel, India and South Korea, respectively, two in Turkey and one each in Australia, Canada and Singapore." it added.

The sales of three Israeli companies accounted for $8.7 billion, or 2.1% of the top 100.

The combined arms sales of three Indian arms companies listed were $5.9 billion in 2018 -- a decrease of 6.9% on 2017.

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