April 13, 2010: The top ten defense manufacturers on the planet has shuffled their standings recently, with British firm BAE, for the first time, taking the top spot. This is the first time, since World War II, that a non-American firm has been top dog in weapons sales. Last year, the standings were more traditional (Boeing, BAE, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, EADS, L-3, Finmeccanica, Thales).
The top hundred defense firms have sales of about $400 billion. Data is hard to come by on Chinese weapons manufacturers, but nearly all the other nations require audited financial data from major firms. American firms account for over 60 percent of arms sales, but companies from other nations are catching up. In addition to BAE taking the top spot, and Russian firm Almaz-Antei (which manufactures anti-aircraft missile systems), broke into the top twenty.
Most of the production goes for the nation's own forces. But over $60 billion in weapons are exported each year. The U.S. is the biggest exporter, but multinationals like BAE keep several European nations in the top ten. BAE sells over half its output to the United States.