Israel: arms manufacturer sees highest sales growth in 2021

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Middle East Monitor  /  December 6, 2022

The Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems saw the highest growth in sales of any similar company worldwide in 2021, according to newly-released data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Published yesterday, the data revealed that sales by Elbit Systems jumped from $4.2 billion in 2020 to $4.75bn in 2021, placing it 28th on the list of the top 100 arms manufacturers. Five companies from the Middle East are among the top 100 listed by SIPR. In total they sold arms valued at $15bn last year, a 6.5 per cent jump over the previous year, a larger increase than any other region. The companies are Israel’s Elbit, IAI ($3.87 billion) and Rafael ($3.01 billion); and Turkey’s ASELSAN ($2.16bn) and Turkish Aerospace ($1.2bn).

Elbit is said to supply over 85 per cent of Israel’s drone fleet. It uses its Shenstone site in Britain for the manufacture of drone engines and parts, including the Watchkeeper drone sold to the British government for use in foreign military interventions.

Israeli defence industries reported new contracts worth a cumulative $11.3bn in 2021 compared with $8.6bn in 2020, Haaretz reported. As of September this year alone, Israel had nearly 4,000 military sales contracts; there were 5,400 in the whole of 2021. The newspaper attributed the surge in arms sales to the signing of normalization deals with four Arab countries and the war in Ukraine.

In 2020, Israel signed normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. The deals, however, drew widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say that the so-called Abraham Accords ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.

Globally, five US companies headed the list of top-selling arms manufacturers despite sales having fallen by 0.9 per cent during the year. US companies Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics accounted for $299bn of revenue.

The increase in 2021 sales marked the seventh consecutive year of rising global arms sales. However, the SIPRI report noted difficulties with supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in shortages of vital components, delays in global shipping and labour shortages.

“We might have expected even greater growth in arms sales in 2021 without persistent supply chain issues,” said Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, director of the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program. “Both larger and smaller arms companies said that their sales had been affected during the year.”