The US spends more on weapons than do other developed countries that are not actually at war.
In the US, 3.3% of GDP (2015) goes to military spending. In Russia (still considered a “developing country” economically, it’s 5%; in China, it’s 2%. In the EU, it’s 2.8%.
The big spenders on weapons are the Arab states, led by the Saudis. The Saudis spend approximately 14% of annual GDP on weapons, the highest percentage in the world.
The US also sells more weapons to other countries than does anyone else.
Out of 197 countries, 12 of the largest 25 weapons manufacturers are based in the US. Here’s the top 10 (2015 data, as not all companies have closed their 2016 fiscal year):
- Lockheed Martin (US) $40 billion
- Boeing (US) $29 billion
- BAE Systems (UK) $25 billion
- Raytheon (US) $22 billion
- General Dynamics (US) $19 billion
- Northrop Grumman (US) $18 billion
- Airbus (The Netherlands) $15 billion
- United Technologies (US) $13 billion
- Finmeccanica (Italy) $11 billion
- L-3 Communications (US) $10 billion (1)
In addition to domestic purchases, the US is a major provider of weapons to other countries (2). The major buyers are
- Saudi Arabia, $1.9 billion from US out of $3 billion in total arms imports
- Iraq, $893 million in purchases from the US (51.5% of total arms imports)
- Australia, $869 million from US (82% of total arms imports)
- United Arab Emirates, $773 million from US (61%)
- Qatar, $595 million from US (66%)
- Israel, $526 million from US (87%)
- Italy, $511 million from US (59%)
- South Korea, $501 million (37%)
- Japan, $307 million (93%)
- Mexico, $280 million (72%)
Oddly, current foreign policy in the Middle East and towards Mexico could put much of this weapons revenue at risk. In World War II, the US was “the arsenal of democracy.” That’s no longer the case since most of the major buyers are monarchies.
- “Military Expenditure,” http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS