Number of Weapons Delivered

Another measure of the arms trade besides the total dollar value of all arms exports is the number of units of major weapons transferred. This indicator shows a similar picture of a major downturn in recent years. The number of weapons by major type delivered to all developing countries over the last four three-year periods are as follows (in units; Table V).


                              1983-85    '86-88    '89-91     '92-94 

                              -------    ------    ------     ------

Land Armaments 

-------------- 

Tanks                           6,211     3,970     4,110      1,794 

Artil., Field and Anti-Air     12,850     7,391     5,084      2,644 

Armored Pers. Carriers         11,640     7,841     5,893      2,994 

 

Naval Craft 

-----------         

Major Surface Combatants           52        20        27         31 

Other Surface Combatant           300       208       145        117 

Submarines                          9        17         6          5 

Missile Attack Boats               34         5         9         12 

 

Aircraft 

-------- 

Combat Aircraft, Supers.        1,453       805       992        345 

Combat Aircraft, Subsonic         280       160       190         94 

Other Aircraft                  1,000       799       487        364 

Helicopters                     1,155       824       681        295 



Surface-to-Air Missiles 

-----------------------        

                               20,181    14,035     6,863      3,247 

 

Total, all types               55,165    36,075    24,487     11,942 

The overall pattern of decline for worldwide deliveries by type is similar among the periods (and for other periods since the late 1970s), indicating that the downturn in transfers of weapons has been across the board. A 78% decline in gross numbers was recorded between the first and last periods.

Such broad quantity measures, of course, can obscure the large variability in size, complexity, and military effectiveness that is possible within a single weapon type/supplier/year combination as well as across these three dimensions. Nonetheless, the quantity of transfers by weapon type can be a useful indication of the flow of arms.

The Soviet Union supplied by far the largest number of weapons to all developing regions over the 12-year period, though its existence ended in 1991. Soviet transfers predominated in most weapon types as well for each of the three-year periods (Table 10 and Main Table V). The last period of the decade, 1992-1994, saw a more even distribution among the key suppliers, with the United States having a 24% share, Russia 22%, France 15%, and China 11%. Remarkably, the United Kingdom, the second leading exporter to developing regions in current dollar terms, supplied only a 1% share of the market in unit terms.

Table 10
Suppliers of Major Weapons to Developing Regions, 1983-1994

Major Weapon TypeTotal Soviet
Union
Russia Other
Warsaw
Pact
United
States
FranceUnited
Kingdom
Other
NATO
China Other
Developed
Other
Developing
In Units(In Percent; Total=100)
LAND ARMAMENTS
Tanks 16,08545 410 141 21 14 ---9
Artillery, Field and Anti-Air 27,97933 13 93 ---22 17 39
Armored Personnel Carriers 28,36948 49 135 17 6--- 7
NAVAL CRAFT
Major Surface Combatants 13026 33 36 1330 6--- 10
Other Surface Combatants 77019 1--- 78 917 810 21
Submarines 3746 8--- ------ ---30 5--- 11
Missle Attack Boats 6016 7--- ---7 ---20 45--- 5
AIRCRAFT
Combat Aircraft, Supersonic 3,59542 2--- 247 3--- 122 8
Combat Aircraft, Subsonic 72426 ------ 394 216 1--- 3
Other Aircraft 2,65022 111 104 421 61 20
Helicopters 2,95549 36 1415 27 ------ 4
MISSILES
Surface-to-Air 44,31553 212 118 41 22 5
(Total) (127,669)(45) (2)(9) (12)(6) (2)(7) (8)(2) (7)
TOTALS BY PERIOD
1992-94 11,942... 225 2415 110 11--- 12
1989-91 24,48756 ...6 134 22 101 6
1986-88 36,07558 ...6 84 22 92 9
1983-85 55,16541 ...12 125 313 72 5

Regional Recipients

The Middle East received the largest number of major weapons over the entire 12-year period, with 55,970 units supplied to the region, 44% of the total supplied to developing countries (Table V). Of these weapons, 31,888 were land armaments, 304 were naval craft, 2,961 were aircraft, and 20,817 were surface-to-air missiles. Roughly 28% of the major arms supplied to the Middle East during the decade came from the Soviet Union, 14% from the United States, 12% from China, and 8% from France. During 1992-1994 the Middle East remained the leading importer of total weapons with 5,893 major weapons delivered, 49% of the total (Figure 17). However, the distribution of suppliers to the Middle East has changed dramatically over the decade, with the United States providing 37% of the total, France 20%, Russia 13% and China 2% in the latter period.

In terms of the entire period South Asia became the second largest recipient of major weapons, with 25,782 imported into the region, followed closely by Africa with 24,266, each accounting for roughly 20% of total transfers. The supply of arms to South Asia, historically dominated by the Soviet Union, experienced a large decline in deliveries during 1992-1994. The region now depends primarily on Russia and China for its weapons, the two combined making up a 77% share of the 1,403 weapons delivered during this period. Of these weapons, 950 were land armament weapons, 13 were naval craft, 100 were aircraft, and 340 were surface-to-air missiles.

African imports, dominated as well by the Soviet Union during the decade, also fell dramatically during the later three-year period, a drop that appears to be a continuance of a trend started prior to the breakup. There were 1,678 weapons delivered to Africa during 1992-1994, compared to 12,390 during 1983-1985. Of those delivered in the later period, 1,510 were land armament weapons, 32 were naval craft, 116 were aircraft, and 20 were surface-to-air missiles.

Over the decade East Asia imported 13,027 major weapons, only 10% of the total. However during 1992-1994, the region was the second largest importer when 1,860 weapons went to the region, 16% of the total. Of these, 401 were land armaments, 54 were naval craft, 309 were aircraft, and 1,096 were surface-to-air missiles. The United States was the major supplier to the region, providing roughly one-third of the total throughout the early part of the decade, but this share fell during the last three year period to 25%.

Major weapons supplied to Latin America made up 7% of the world total during the entire decade and 9% during the last three-year period. The Soviet Union was the leading supplier of major weapons to Latin America during the decade, accounting for 57% of the total, but in 1992-1994 the developing country grouping excluding China led the market, providing 36% of the total. This group was followed by Russia with 32%, and the United States with 10%.

Figure 17. Number of Arms Delivered to Developing Regions

Number of Arms Delivered to Developing Regions (105k)

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