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Aerospace & Defense

China is now world's second-largest arms producer: study

Defense sector surpasses Russia's and behind top-ranked US

Helicopters from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force are put on display during an exposition last October.   © Reuters

LONDON -- China now boasts the world's second-largest arms industry, figures compiled by a Swedish institute show, surpassing Russia and trailing only the U.S.

Four of the Asian nation's defense contractors sold an estimated $54.1 billion in arms and military services in 2017, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report out Monday.

A lack of data had kept the think tank from attempting to quantify Chinese sales until now.

China's military-industrial complex grew alongside its economy, with top Chinese defense contractors emerging as major global players.

"These new estimates are most likely still an underestimate," it said in a news release. "A lack of transparency in the arms sales figures of Chinese arms companies continues to hinder a complete understanding of China's arms industry."

Aviation Industry Corp. of China generated $20.1 billion in sales in 2017, ranking sixth in the world. The figure was nearly half that of the global leader, U.S.-based Lockheed Martin.

China North Industries Group, reportedly the world's biggest producer of armored vehicles, artillery and air defense systems, came in eighth. 

Among Japanese arms producers, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries made the think tank's top 100 list of contractors in 2018, ranking 25th and 48th. 

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