2016’s $1.57 Trillion Global Defence Spend to Kick off Decade of Growth, IHS Markit Says
APAC shifts from territorial defence to power projection; India tops Saudi Arabia and pushes Russia out of the top five biggest defence budgets
LONDON (12 December 2016) – After a lackluster 2015, global defence spending rose in 2016 to $1.57 trillion, kicking off what is forecast to be a decade of stronger global defence expenditure, according to the annual Jane’s Defence Budgets Report released today by IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO), a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.
“Defence spending returned to a healthy rate of growth in 2016, kicking off what we expect to be a decade of stronger global defence spending,” said Fenella McGerty, principal analyst, IHS Jane’s. “Defence spending should recover to pre-financial crisis levels by 2018.”
The IHS Jane's Defence Budgets team produces the annual Jane’s Defence Budgets Report every December. The report examines and forecasts defence expenditure for 105 countries and captures 99 percent of global defence spending.
Key findings from the 2016 IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets Report
- Asia Pacific (APAC): The gradual shift in focus from territorial defence to power projection could prompt even faster budget growth in APAC in the medium term.
- China: China’s defence budget will almost double within 10 years -- from $123 billion in 2010 to $233 billion in 2020. By 2020, China’s defence budget will be about four times bigger than the UK’s and more than the entire Western European regional defence spend combined.
- India: In 2016, India overtook Saudi Arabia and Russia to become one of the top five defence spenders globally for the first time.
- Middle East: Instability has ensured that defence spending continues to be protected from significant cuts, despite the budgetary constraints caused by low oil prices.
- NATO: NATO defence expenditure increased for the first time since 2010 in response to growing strategic challenges posed by the Islamic State and Russia.
- Western Europe: Security concerns add approximately $10 billion to defence budgets across the region over the next five years. A weak pound could see India overtake the UK by 2018.
- Baltics: Tensions with their neighbour Russia boosted defence spending from $981 million in 2014 to $2.1 billion by 2020. The region is starting from a small number, but is growing faster than any other.
- US: The US defence budget represents about 40 percent of the total global defence budget. Since 9/11 over $9.35 trillion has been allocated to the US defence budget.
APAC – Shift to power projection
Defence spending in APAC has boomed in recent years, driven by economic expansion in the region. Rising tensions around the South China Sea could see growth accelerate further.
Between 2011 and 2015, the key states surrounding the South China Sea spent $166 billion on the procurement of defence equipment. Between 2016 and 2020 that number is expected to increase to $250 billion, with priorities shifting towards air and naval capabilities.
“A key trend in APAC is the shift from a traditional focus on territorial defence towards power projection,” said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst, IHS Jane’s. “This is new for the region and is likely to increase military-to-military contact between states. Rising defence spending could therefore be indirectly responsible for increased tension within the region which in turn could spur faster budget growth.”
China’s defence budget will almost double within 10 years -- from $123 billion in 2010 to $233 billion in 2020. By 2020, China’s defence budget will be about four times bigger than the UK’s and more than the combined spending of Western Europe. By 2025, China is expected to outspend all other states in APAC combined.
Japan’s defence budget will hover around the $41 billion mark between now and 2020. “Although the Abe administration has started to increase defence spending after a decade of cuts, there are still severe budgetary constraints in place in Japan,” said Paul Burton, director, IHS Jane’s. “Japan cannot realistically match the kind of budget growth we continue to see in China, so the government is focusing upon spending its defence budget more efficiently and trying to provide more capability for the same amount of money.”
India – Modernisation drive forces India above Saudi Arabia, Russia and eventually the UK
In 2016, India passed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the country with the fourth biggest defence budget in the world. With growth expected to accelerate over the next two years, India will become the third largest defence budget globally in 2018, surpassing the UK.
“Procurement spending has been constrained in India over the last three years as personnel costs have increased,” Caffrey said. “However, what we expect to see from 2017 onwards is a military focused on modernisation. India needs new equipment to fulfill its modernisation drive. Over the next three years, India will re-emerge as a key growth market for defence suppliers.”
Middle East – Down, but not out
Despite fiscal concerns and a lower oil price, defence budgets in the Middle East are forecast to recover to the spending highs of 2014 by 2019 at the latest.
The Middle East was the fastest growing region in terms of defence spending between 2012 and 2014. Spending dipped due to the dramatic drop in oil prices. However, even at the ‘low point’, regional defence spending in 2015 and 2016 will still be higher than 2013 figures.
“We’ve seen a pause in growth in the Gulf States as a result of the collapse in oil prices,” Caffrey said. “However, generally speaking, defence has been protected from cuts due to regional instability. In the cases of Kuwait and Qatar, we’ve actually seen significant increases in defence spending.”
Saudi Arabia’s defence budget dipped slightly from $50.5 billion in 2015 to $48.7 billion in 2016. Algeria’s defence budget increases since 2010 pushed the country into the top 20 this year.
NATO and Western Europe – Security concerns boost growth
NATO defence expenditure increased for the first time since 2010 as a result of an end to cuts in the US and stronger growth in Europe.
A deteriorating security situation has caused Western European defence budgets to rise for the first time in six years. Approximately $10 billion will be added to Western European defence budgets across the next five years.
“Fueled by an increasingly uncertain security environment and growing international pressure, Western European defence spending increased for the first time since 2009 and we expect growth to continue to strengthen over the next decade,” McGerty said. ”However, growth could be set back if the region’s economic recovery is derailed by the ongoing difficulties in Southern Europe as well as uncertainty surrounding the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU.”
The combined defence budget for the European Union in 2016 is $219 billion. In 2020, the combined defence budget will be $230.4 billion. China’s defence budget will be bigger than the European Union’s in 2020.
If a weaker pound persists, India will spend more on defence than the UK by 2018 – pushing the UK out of the top three. In 2015, the UK’s defence budget was $53.5 billion. It slightly increased to $53.8 billion in 2016 and will rise to $55.1 billion by 2020.
Baltics - Fastest growing region
Since the Ukraine crisis began, defence investment in the Baltics has doubled and will double again in the next two years.
“The profile of defence spending in the Baltics has changed dramatically in the past two years,” McGerty said. In 2005, the region’s total defence spending came to $930 million in real terms. By 2014, this had grown marginally to $981 million but by 2016, it had soared to $1.45 billion.
“Their defence budgets will all be over 2 percent of GDP by 2018, and each country will have doubled or tripled their budgets from 10 years ago. Annual growth in the region reached 27 percent in 2016 and by 2020, the region’s defence spending will reach $2.1 billion. This growth is faster than any other region globally,” McGerty said.
Russia – Out of the top five
2015 is expected to represent the zenith of Russian defence expenditures for the foreseeable future. The 2016 budget included the first reduction in Russian defence expenditures seen since the late 1990s and this year saw Russia drop to the number six position – the first time it has been out of the top five in years. “The surge in Indian defence spending pushed Russia below Saudi Arabia and down into the number six slot,” Caffrey said. “We expect the Russian defence budget to fall again next year and it will sit below France in the number seven positon by 2020, based on current plans, with a total defence budget of $41.4 billion.”
US – Still the world leader
In 2016, the US defence budget rose to $622 billion from $615.7 billion in 2015. The 2016 US figure represents about 40 percent of the year’s global defence spend.
“Since 9/11, over $9.35 trillion has been allocated to the US defence budget, with the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) accounting for $1.62 trillion or 17.3 percent of the total US Department of Defense budget,” said Guy Eastman, senior analyst, IHS Jane’s. After 9/11 a buildup took place through 2010 to support operations in the Middle East and elsewhere, followed by decreasing OCO budgets and troop reductions, bringing the US Department of Defense (DoD) budget to the 2016 value of $622 billion.
“US DoD investment levels going forward were to decrease by 1.1 percent in real terms, but with the election of Donald Trump, the expectation is that both investment and readiness will receive injections of much needed funds,” Eastman said.
About 45 percent of investment funding will go toward procurement and modification of aircraft, ship, submarine and military ground vehicle platforms. When the new administration takes office in January 2017, actions toward the proposed goals to increase ground forces, increased ship and tactical aircraft numbers and readiness levels will commence along with RDT&E investment in innovation, according to the IHS Jane’s report.
About the IHS Jane’s Annual Defence Budgets Report
The IHS Jane’s Annual Defence Budgets Report is the world’s most comprehensive, forward-looking study of government’s defence budgets. Tracking 99 percent of the global defence expenditure from 105 of the world’s largest defence budgets, data is compiled from IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets online solution platform. It includes five-year forecasts, historical data, budget charting, trend evaluation and in-depth analysis by country. In this study, values are based on constant 2016 US dollars. The intelligence cut off for this report is 6 December 2016.
Top 20 defence budgets for 2015 and 2016 (in millions US dollars). For this study, values based on constant 2016 US dollars.
Top 10 Total
Top 10 Total
% Global Spending
% Global Spending
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
Top 20 Total
Top 20 Total
Global Total 2015
Global Total 2016
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