Saudi Arabia eclipsed India in 2014 as the number one importer of arms worldwide and also became the top defense market for US companies, announced IHS, Inc., a global information company, in its annual Global Defense Trade Report. Saudi Arabian defense imports increased by 54 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to IHS’ March 7 release. There’s no sign that the growth in defense acquisition by Riyadh will slow, said Ben Moore, a senior IHS defense analyst. In fact, one out of every seven dollars spent on defense imports in 2015 will be spent by Saudi Arabia, states the release. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates together imported some $8.6 billion in aerospace and defense wares in 2014—more than the combined purchases of all the Western European countries, according to IHS. The United States benefits greatly from this trend, with $8.4 billion in exports to the Middle East in 2014, up from $6 billion in 2013. Overall, the global defense trade rose 13.4 percent in 2014 to $64.4 billion, up from $56.8 billion in the previous year. China rose from the fifth biggest importer in 2013 to the third in 2014, as its defense budgets continue to grow despite the leveling of its economy.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.