How Big is the International Arms Trade?

A new Occasional Paper by Sam Perlo-Freeman, attempts to produce a global estimate, or rather a range of estimates of the financial size of the international arms trade. The paper also explains problems with the data, including for some of the largest western arms exporters, from whom one might expect a greater level of transparency: most notably, the USA.

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A New High, A New Low

But a billion here and there adds up, with the F35 program cost ballooning from $219 billion (1997) to $395 billion (2012) and counting. Even after the Pentagon finally strong-armed Lockheed into serious cost control a few years ago, and significantly cut the number of planes it will buy, the total lifetime cost of the F35 looks to be, optimistically, $1.02 trillion.

All of the figures in the previous paragraph are so enormous that they cease to have any real meaning – they’re unimaginable. To bring them down to earth, the World Peace Foundation decided to have a concrete look at what else that money could have bought:

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