In a turnaround from previous years, the United Kingdom’s defence exports saw a significant surge in 2022, reaching £11.2 billion, a substantial increase from the £6.6 billion recorded in 2021.
This is a 70% growth in nominal prices.
The surge in defence exports in 2022 is largely attributed to new contracts in the Middle East and Europe, coupled with significant exports of helicopters to Canada.
Over the five-year period from 2018 to 2022, the UK’s annual defence orders have averaged £10.0 billion. This steady performance is underpinned by the aerospace sector, which accounts for approximately 68% of the value of UK defence exports during this period.
The variability inherent in defence exports, often influenced by large orders and contract awards, is evident in these figures.
The Middle East emerges as the most significant market for the UK’s defence exports, accounting for an average of 43% of the total value of orders from 2018 to 2022. Despite a decline in orders since 2019, the region remains a key area of focus for UK defence companies.
“The Middle East was on average the largest market for UK defence export orders over the 5 years from 2018 to 2022, accounting for an average of 43% of the total value of orders across that period. Five-year moving average exports in the Middle East have shown a decline since 2019, reflecting a drop in in-year orders following large contracts in 2018 of Typhoon Aircraft and Brimstone Missiles to Qatar.
Five-year average exports to Europe increased from £0.8 billion in 2018 to £2.2 billion in 2022, overtaking those to North America in 2020. Most exports to Ukraine in 2022 are not counted here as they have mostly been committed as part of a military assistance package following Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Further details of Ukraine exports and UK military support can be found in Section 11.”
In Europe, the average exports increased markedly from £0.8 billion in 2018 to £2.2 billion in 2022, reflecting the UK’s expanding influence in the European defence market. Notably, most exports to Ukraine in 2022 have been committed as part of a military assistance package and are not included in these figures.
The aerospace sector continues to dominate the UK’s defence exports, comprising 68% of the total value of orders from 2018 to 2022.
In comparison to global trends, the UK’s defence exports show distinctive patterns. Data from the United States, Australia, Canada, the UK Ministry of Defence, NATO, and other sources reveal diverse trends in defence exports worldwide.
However, due to differences in data collection methodologies, comparisons between UK exports and those of other countries should be approached with caution.
This article is based on information from the UK Government’s report on defence exports and includes data and insights from various sources cited by the UK Defence and Security Exports survey.