THERE’S been a billion-pound spike in arms sales worldwide, as armed conflicts have more than doubled around the globe, worrying figures show.
Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s top 100 firms – excluding China – totalled US$420 billion last year – a 4.6 per cent jump since 2017.
New data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) also reveals that sales of arms and military services by the top 100 firms have risen by a whopping 47 per cent since 2002.
It said that Chinese companies are excluded from the findings as there is a "lack of data".
Russia's largest arms producer, Almaz-Antey, continued to grow in 2018, due to "strong domestic demand, and continued growth in sales to other countries, particularly of the S-400 air defence system," said the report.
Russian activity in the North Atlantic… is at a post-Cold War high.
The S-400 is an advanced anti-aircraft weapon system, which can reach targets up to 400km away.
SIPRI also found that "for the first time since 2002, the top five spots in the ranking are held exclusively by arms companies in the US."
American firms shelled out $246b last year, "equivalent to 59 per cent of all arms sales by the top 100," the institute added.
The findings have been released days after the UK's Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Nick Carter, warned in a speech that, "threats to our nation are diversifying, proliferating and intensifying very rapidly.
"Our security, stability and prosperity for several generations continues to be undermined by assertive authoritarian regimes who behave as if their historic right of entitlement is being denied to them.
"We have returned to an era of great power competition, even constant conflict – reminiscent, perhaps, of the first decade of the last century."
Sir Nick said that "Russian activity in the North Atlantic… is at a post-Cold War high."
Meanwhile, "Iraq’s government is fragile after several months of public disorder and there is public disquiet in Lebanon, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is being challenged, Yemen remains in conflict and Libya is increasingly a proxy war," he added.
Sir Nick said that, "worryingly, I think, the trends are not positive".
Authoritarian opponents are attacking our way of life and our freedom in a manner that is remarkably difficult to defeat.
For example, the number of non-international armed conflicts have risen from "fewer than 30 to more than 70 in the last few years.
"Daesh, and the extremist ideas it represents, has absolutely not been defeated – indeed the threat from terrorism has proliferated.
"And conditions in parts of the world are not conducive to reducing the growth of extremism."
Sir Nick said that all of this "instability" around the globe is "reflected in the activity levels of our Armed Forces".
The UK's forces are currently engaged in "some 36 ongoing operations".
"Our activity has been focussed on deterrence and reassurance, counter terrorism and the generation of modernised capability.
"We have conducted air policing both in the Baltics and currently in Iceland.
"We have returned to exercising in the High North, and we have seen a growth in maritime activity in the North Atlantic in response to increased Russian surface and sub-surface activity," he said.
Sir Nick pointed out that "the challenge for us in the West" comes from "authoritarian opponents".
They are "attacking our way of life and our freedom in a manner that is remarkably difficult to defeat without undermining the very freedoms we seek to protect."