Total global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The total for 2019 represents an increase of 3.6 per cent from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010. The five largest spenders in 2019, which accounted for 62 per cent of expenditure, were the United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia. This is the first time that two Asian states have featured among the top three military spenders.

Global military spending in 2019 represented 2.2 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), which equates to approximately $249 per person. “Global military expenditure was 7.2 per cent higher in 2019 than it was in 2010, showing a trend that military spending growth has accelerated in recent years,” says Dr Nan Tian, SIPRI Researcher. “This is the highest level of spending since the 2008 global financial crisis and probably represents a peak in expenditure.”

The report also states:

The top 15 military spenders in the world in 2019 were the same as those in
2018, but there were some significant changes in the rankings among the highest
spenders. Together, the top 15 countries spent $1553 billion in 2019, accounting for 81 per cent of global military expenditure.”

Click to enlarge,

All but three countries in the top 15 had higher military expenditure in
2019 than in 2010. The exceptions were the United States (–15 per cent),
the United Kingdom (–15 per cent) and Italy (–11 per cent). China’s increase
(85 per cent) was by far the largest among the top 15.”

United States drives global growth in military spending

Military spending by the United States grew by 5.3 per cent to a total of $732 billion in 2019 and accounted for 38 per cent of global military spending. The increase in US spending in 2019 alone was equivalent to the entirety of Germany’s military expenditure for that year.

“The recent growth in US military spending is largely based on a perceived return to competition between the great powers,” says Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI, in a news release from the organisation.

China and India top Asian military spending

In 2019 China and India were, respectively, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world. China’s military expenditure reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1 per cent increase compared with 2018, while India’s grew by 6.8 per cent to $71.1 billion.

“India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending,” says Siemon T. Wezeman, SIPRI Senior Researcher.

In addition to China and India, Japan ($47.6 billion) and South Korea ($43.9 billion) were the largest military spenders in Asia and Oceania. Military expenditure in the region has risen every year since at least 1989.

Germany leads military expenditure increases in Europe

Germany’s military spending rose by 10 per cent in 2019, to $49.3 billion. This was the largest increase in spending among the top 15 military spenders in 2019.

“The growth in German military spending can partly be explained by the perception of an increased threat from Russia, shared by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states,” says Diego Lopes da Silva, Researcher at SIPRI.

“At the same time, however, military spending by France and the United Kingdom remained relatively stable.”

There were sharp increases in military expenditure among NATO member states in Central Europe: for example, Bulgaria’s increased by 127 per cent—mainly due to payments for new combat aircraft—and Romania’s rose by 17 per cent. Total military spending by all 29 NATO member states was $1035 billion in 2019.

In 2019 Russia was the fourth-largest spender in the world and increased its military expenditure by 4.5 per cent to $65.1 billion. ‘At 3.9 per cent of its GDP, Russia’s military spending burden was among the highest in Europe in 2019,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher at SIPRI.

Volatile military spending in African states in conflict

Armed conflict is one of the main drivers for the volatile nature of military spending in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, where there are several ongoing armed conflicts, military spending in 2019 increased in Burkina Faso (22 per cent), Cameroon (1.4 per cent) and Mali (3.6 per cent) but fell in Chad (–5.1 per cent), Niger (–20 per cent) and Nigeria (–8.2 per cent). Among Central African countries that were involved in armed conflict, military spending in 2019 rose overall. The Central African Republic (8.7 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16 per cent) and Uganda (52 per cent) all increased military spending in 2019.

Volatile military spending in African states in conflict

  • South America: Military expenditure in South America was relatively unchanged in 2019, at $52.8 billion. Brazil accounted for 51 per cent of total military expenditure in the subregion.
  • Africa: The combined military expenditure of states in Africa grew by 1.5 per cent to an estimated $41.2 billion in 2019—the region’s first spending increase for five years.
  • South East Asia: Military spending in South East Asia increased by 4.2 per cent in 2019 to reach $40.5 billion.
  • The average military spending burden was 1.4 per cent of GDP for countries in the Americas, 1.6 per cent for Africa, 1.7 per cent for Asia and Oceania and for Europe and 4.5 per cent for the Middle East (in countries for which data is available).

SIPRI say that it monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive publicly available data source on military expenditure. The data is accessible on the Military Expenditure Database page of SIPRI’s website.

“All percentage changes are expressed in real terms (constant 2018 prices). Military expenditure refers to all government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, and central administration, command and support.”

Read the Full Report in PDF.

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Dan
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Dan

and why do we still give aid to India?

maurice10
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maurice10

In some circumstances, aid is another method of entry into their market?

The Big Man
Guest
The Big Man

We don’t.

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

We don’t give a penny to the Indian government We invest a small amount of the DfID budget in Indian enterprise and job creation with the aim of making money for British companies and creating jobs for British workers Whilst at the same time giving our diplomats something juicy to hand over the table when they’re at meetings with their Indian counterparts, firmly placing Britain in the best possible light in the eyes of the Indian government, which would be helpful seen as India is a potential superpower It’s called geostrategy & soft power Dan, something the British tabloids know… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

thank you fair enough it is the sprat to catch a mackerel.

just seen the DfID budget and we no longer provide it – good!

Adrian
Guest
Adrian

Aid isn’t really ‘aid’ in this context. On a nation-state level it’s about soft power – so we should be as generous as possible.

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

This old chestnut again….what countries really want is access to markets…aid just goes into the hands of well paid CEOs of NGOs and into Swiss bank account. There is no evidence to relate aid to soft power….fiction…fiction…fiction….

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

Peter

The global soft power index that measures the soft power rankings has engagement through diplomacy and contributions to global development as one of its six measuring categories with foreign aid a specific and important metric in that category

That’s a fact, the only fiction is in your head

Peter Shaw
Guest
Peter Shaw

You have already lost the argument SoleSurvivor when you resort to insults….Overseas aid will continue to disliked by the majority of the general public in the UK and that 0.7% is destined to go down to probably to less than 0.1% of GDP. Personally I would like it to go completely but any percentage reduction is a win at this stage. Numerous studies have shown that trade not aid…a hand-up and not a hand-out…works much better. Better to do trade, set up businesses and enable people to develop their own companies and businesses than lining the pockets of well paid… Read more »

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

You lost the argument last week when you failed to produce any evidence whatsoever and not a single fact in your argument, you actually thought the Soviet Union fell because of a trade embargo, that’s the level I am dealing with here This is the fifth time I have asked, how much of the 2019 aid budget went to African dictators?? I have already explained to you what and how the aid money gets spent, it’s not all given away and it doesn’t all go to NGO’s, it’s a complex system that’s been explained to you and you cannot grasp… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

UK spending as share of GDP is 1.7% according to this. Not the 2% trumpeted by HMG which we know to be cobblers.

Graham
Guest
Graham

Because HMG ridiculously count pension payments to increase the figure to 2%. Nobody else does this and nobody else is fooled by it. The 1.7% is therefore the true figure. Although these figures relate to 2019 and we know this years GDP will be reduced so by fluke the 2020 figures will probably be 2% or above.

Blue Fuzz
Guest
Blue Fuzz

I’m not convinced that these figures are correct. For a start they show the UK spending 1.7% of GDP on defence when the UK Govt claims to have met its 2% commitment (yes, I know they include pensions and other expenditure that shouldn’t really be included – but so do other countries).

Blue
Guest
Blue
SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

“At the same time, however, military spending by France and the United Kingdom remained relatively stable.”

Since when has -15% since 2010 been classed as “stable”

James
Guest
James

I think it was referring to 2018-19 budgets being stable not over the time frame you mention.

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

All but three countries in the top 15 had higher military expenditure in
2019 than in 2010. The exceptions were the United States (–15 per cent),
the United Kingdom (–15 per cent) and Italy (–11 per cent). China’s increase
(85 per cent) was by far the largest among the top 15.”

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

Post-COVID military budget strategy across the World will be very interesting. The longer the lockdown continues the less money will be available over too many government departments? The fate of the US economy will also be a major factor for many countries, and significant pruning of the DOD budgets in recent years, could be further compounded by the current crisis?

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

The USN has announced it is going ahead with the FFX frigate program, will build the first 10 frigates.
So the US will just go over 4% of GDP on defence.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

So Germany spends a bit more than the UK, yet has no nuclear arms, SSBN, SSN, or Carriers, big ticket items.
Where is their money going? I know they have more armoured vehicles, tanks, fighter aircraft, and helicopters, but we keep reading here their military is barely operational.
Is this really true?

LongTime
Guest
LongTime

I think it comes down to wages mate, they have 37000ish more active service personnel and 9000 more civilian support staff. I’m pretty sure the French figures are slightly low as I’m pretty sure their nuclear deterrent comes out of central government like ours used to.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Hmmm. The question of the deterrent. I’d love a definitive answer to that, regarding France and the other nuclear powers. Defence budget or central government, as you say.

The pension and deterrent costs in core are really causing problems. Where are the journalists asking these key questions either of the PM or the DS.

They need calling out whenever the 2 % mantra is mentioned.

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

The news media & most politicians don’t seem to be interested in defence, until TSHTF, when that 3% difference results in probably disproportionate weakneses & losses.

Andy
Guest
Andy

I wonder if a freedom of information request would tell us?

Graham
Guest
Graham

They’ve been going on an equipment purchasing splurge, the recent announcement of plans to order 93 Typhoons and 45 Super Hornet/Growlers is an example.

r cummings
Guest
r cummings

The House of Commons Defence Select Committee concluded in 2017 that defence expenditure, excluding pensions and other dodgy additions made by HMG, was 1.7% of GDP.

The SIPRI analysis comes to the same conclusion.

Nobody buys the tricks HMG used to claim 2% of GDP, except of course the Tory tabloids. HMG seems perfectly happy to fool the great British public but our NATO and Commonwealth allies musr see us as a nation of tricksters and fibbers.

The Opposition in Parliament really needs to hammer this 2% fake news each time it is trumpeted by the PM and Government ministers.

Andy
Guest
Andy

I wish they would, and I wish Trump knew.

LongTime
Guest
LongTime

It might be Graham but I would of thought that would be financial years 2020-25

andy
Guest
andy

my only fear is when this virus has finally gone and done one,what damage will be done to the existing or future dense budgets,because past governments always use the defense budget as a backup piggy bank.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I don’t think they will be getting much change out of the 1.7% of GDP budget myself, considering the hundreds of billions involved, it would barely dent it. There is little left to cut.

They have taken much of this money from the Bank of England, which we own anyway.

No more austerity. Invest and spend.

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

Austerity in the NHS has really made the Covid outbreak far worse than it need to have been.

expat
Guest
expat

Why do you think that? Adding 1000 extra ICU beds would have had little impact on the need to lockdown and stifle economic growth. What held us back is the ability to mass test. Germany has faired well here and the irony of that is their use of private labs was baked into their health system so could ramp up quickly. What’s hampered the UK is the lack of intelligent debate, you can’t mention private and NHS in the same sentence anymore even if the end result is a better service or saving lives, its now dismissed without discussion. Once… Read more »

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Correct, spot on.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

140 Billion quid for year 2019/20 isn’t quite austerity is it…..

WeeWill
Guest
WeeWill

The old adage of capitalism, ‘speculate to accumulate’! The ‘unless you’re a government, because that makes you communist.’ bit is always missed off for some reason. The weight of research from the past decade is favouring the theory that austerity has been an unsuccessful ideological pursuit. Committed strategic investment, which the latest budget seemed to start to refocus on is often posited as the more viable alternative. But to be most effective would require tax reform and non-light touch government; neither are things the Conservative party is interested in being associated with. Nor is effective defence spending, other than occasional… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

The UK spends >2% of GDP on defence annually based on how NATO defines that expense. It has done so since at least 2013. Just do a search for “Defence Expenditure of NATO Countries (2013-2019)” for the PDF from NATO. SIPRI presumably uses a different basis for what to include in its estimates. There is no vast UK conspiracy to hide numbers. We can certainly debate whether the UK should be spending more (or not) in absolute terms but focusing on 2% of GDP (as if this is some magic figure of merit rather than just a NATO guideline) and… Read more »

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

It’s not at all irrelevant. It is a conspiracy, a con to fool the electorate & paint a false rosey picture of the defences of this nation. The army, air force & navy have not been weaker than they are now for centuries(but the air force is just over 100 years old of course). For what it costs us, we get precious little in capability unless you think precipitating a global nuclear Armageddon is a good idea. We’ve had cut after cut for decades & it’s gone too far, hazarding out security & our servicemen & women.

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Frank, I don’t know how you define “weaker” but how about we consider that we are neither trying to grow or defend an Empire anymore. Let’s further consider that we are no longer facing the Warsaw Pact. In fact all countries of the Warsaw Pact outside the USSR are now members of NATO. In fact even some countries that were within the USSR are now members of NATO and other former members of the USSR are certainly not aligned with Russia. So basically the putative enemy is Russia … and every major European country including Russia has smaller armed forces… Read more »

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

I would agree with that analysis. Although, in the short term I am concerned that the growth in Russia defence spending and an increase in aggressive activities from Russian forces in and around UK and NATO waters and the Middle East needs a response. Also, China will pose a threat at a global level in the not too distant future. They have already instigated regular visits to the Russian Baltic Fleet exercises, so clearly are aiming to develop a true global blue water navy. They are some way off challenging the USN and NATO in blue operations, but I beleive… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Hi CR. With Russia I am less concerned, provided there is political will across Europe for defence with rapid (which is key) response to any potential Russian aggression. European NATO allies are continuing to invest in modern warships, AIP and nuclear submarines, modern aircraft (stealth or otherwise). Land forces might be a concern, but less so if Russia fails to control the air, the latter clearly being a focus for NATO. I tend to automatically discount the US contribution, not because I think its an issue (although its certainly a possibility) but because Europe should be capable of its own… Read more »

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

I agree, it is the case of NATO getting its act together quickly.

r cummings
Guest
r cummings

The obvious point that GHF misses here is that, by sliding pensions and nuclear programme costs and probably a good slice of GCHQ into the defence budget, * Defence expenditure was cut by a further, unannounced and unrecorded, 15% – we have subsequently had 17/20ths of the previous budget * The Home Office, Treasury and DWP have unloaded a good chunk of their spend on the MOD, but they are not primarily defence costs – Government pensions are paid through DWP, they are not hypothecated by individual departments, so the inclusion of pensions in the MOD budget is just three… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Hi R C. Agree with almost all of your post. Well said. Just a few small notes that GCHQ do not fall under the Home Office, that is the Security Service. ( MI5 ) GCHQ are the responsibility of the Foreign Secretary, but are not a part of the F&CO. With the creative accounting that you have rightly outlined there have also been comments over the years here that the budget for the intelligence agencies ( SIS / SS / GCHQ ) is included. This is called the SIA “Single Intelligence Account” and I have seen no proof at all… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Hi Daniele. If interested you can see my responses to Frank and RC above. I feel there is too much focus on 2% as a number and what it does or does not include, rather than focus on what we need to do and whether that is adequately funded.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Morning GHF. I did read it. Yes fair comment.

At the end of the day with HMG and MoD financial incompetence around I feel that needs sorting above all.

There needs to be a proper strategic plan endorsed by all parties and stuck with. And that plan should not be lets disarm!

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Hi RC. Down the rabbit hole we go once again on 2%. Note that I didn’t say the UK shouldn’t spend more. I simply point out that focusing on 2% as some magical number is irrelevant. The issue is not what percent of GDP is spent but are we spending appropriately for the defence we perceive we need. Would you be happy with 2% defined any way you like, if in fact we should be spending 5%? But to say we should spend more than we do today should be justified by the threats we face, and especially the role… Read more »

George
Guest
George

Hi Glass half full.
I have checked the figures of the spreadsheet and agree with you. I have also posted on here with my account of how are accurate are the rankings.
Cheers,
George

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

Sad we don’t have a great deal to show for it: Historically tiny conventional forces. Two places above Japan(a fair analogue to UK-developed Island trading nation) but only about half the size of its fleet. We must stop the current procumement system where just one or two corporations overcharge us like some sort of cash cow, so we get the kit we need in the quantities nessecary.

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

It’s not all the likes of BAE’s fault, however. Part of the problem is the MoD and HMG. Take the QE carriers for example. Early on it was decided that they would be STOVL carriers using the F35B. Then David Cameron’s goverment announces that they’re going to use F35C instead, and later changes its mind back to the original STOVL F35B as they realise that to change the carrier design halfway through being built would cost more than they would save on buying F35C vs B. Similar with a lot of our ships; HMG/MoD start making changes once the design… Read more »

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

I don’t think F-18 or F-35C would proform well using STOBAR, without having vectored thrust. F-35B and Harrier. would be ok.

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

I agree entirely.

expat
Guest
expat

I don’t think its HMG that want everything shiny and gold plated. They’d be quite happy to hear from the services that could bomb ISS in a modern day equivalent of Sopwith Camel and then cut as appropriate.

George
Guest
George

Hi folks hope are all well. I have checked some of the figures on the above rankings, and I’m slightly puzzled by the UK ranking of 8th. Upon looking at NATO’s 2019 expenditure, the UK is 60.376 billion $ making it second after the US, and Europe’s largest defence budget. Although there are issues around GDP defence expenditure being 2% or 1.7? Other factors need to be considered. For example, French defence budget also includes the Gendarmerie at 7.7 billion Euro. In addition, according to the NATO current figures France defence budget is 50.659 billion $ and Germany at 54.133… Read more »

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Hi, does Russia’s figures include hidden subsidies to its defence Industries?

Alex
Guest
Alex

This post is based on Stock Peace Institute always had different contradicting figures. Lets also not forget countries like China and Turkey due to devalued currency and high productivity can produce more military hardware than a country with higher budget high cost labour and overheads With current trends China will dominate Asia and Far East .Russia Eastern and Northern Europe possibly Mediterranean if it gets its way in Libya. Turkey South Eastern Europe North Africa and Horn of Africa European states lack the man power will and determination to be 21s century powers and recognise not their political influence and… Read more »

George
Guest
George

Hi Alex, quite right about the need to “wake up”, we and many others on this site have been saying so for a long time. The politicians must protect the nation’s interest, this may mean having to review the defence budget in upward move rather than cut. Obviously post covid19 will impact all defence budgets, nonetheless, the UK must take stock of it’s post Brexit status.
Cheers,
George

Ian
Guest
Ian

See the Thin Pinstriped in blog for further commentary on this- particularly re. SIPRI methodology.

Blue
Guest
Blue

I’m not sure about these figures, especially the German aspect whereby they spend more than the UK? Here are the NATO official figures, look at page 7- the UK clearly spends more than France and Germany here. Could it be different accounting methods between SIPRI and NATO? https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2019_11/20191129_pr-2019-123-en.pdf