US Increases Dominance as Global Weapons Supplier

Saudi Arabia was the US's top customer for weapons between 2016 and 2020 and the world's top arms importer

A report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that from 2016 to 2020, the US increased its dominance in the global weapons market, providing about 37 percent of the arms sold for those years, compared with 32 percent from 2011 to 2015.

The SIPRI report said US arms exports grew by 15 percent from 2016 to 2020 compared to the previous five-year period. Washington provided 96 states with weapons. States in the Middle East accounted for about 47 percent of the US’s overall arms sales.

Saudi Arabia was Washington’s top customer for the time period, accounting for 24 percent of US arms exports. This number reflects the Saudi intervention in Yemen, which began in March 2015, and continues today. The US-backed Saudi-led coalition has frequently bombed civilian infrastructure in Yemen, where civilians are starving to death because of the siege.

Besides being Washington’s top customer, Riyadh was also the number one arms importer for the time period. The top five importers were Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia, and China.

Russia came in second behind the US as a top exporter. Moscow provided about 20 percent of the world’s arms exports from 2016 to 2020 and supplied 45 states with weapons during that time period. Behind Russia is France at 8.2 percent, Germany at 5.5 percent, and China in fifth, providing 5.2 percent of the world’s weapons.

While the US increased its weapons exports, the study found that global weapons transfers decreased by 0.5 percent from 2016 to 2020 compared with 2011 to 2015.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.