Exports of conventional weapons between 1950 and 2016


The figure shows the global export of conventional weapons 1950 to 2016 as well as the figures for the six major exporting countries France, China, Germany, Russia, Great Britain and the United states for the same period. Export figures are indicated in numbers for seven different categories of weapons (rockets and rocket launchers, vessels of war/submarines, combat helicopters, combat aircraft, large calibre guns, armoured ground vehicles and battle tanks).


Between 1950 and 2016, a total of 222,632 weapons belonging to one of the seven categories were exported worldwide. With 19.8% percent, the largest arms exporter is Russia, followed by the United States with 15.2% percent and the United Kingdom with 5.0 percent. The countries shown together represent 45 percent of global arms exports With 137,745 units, arms of the category "Rockets and rocket launchers" were exported the most followed by armoured ground vehicles, with 35,100 units.

This data originates from the information that UN member states annually make available to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) UNODA administers the UN Register of Conventional Arms – UNROCA – which exists since 1991 The UNROCA was initated as a so-called confidence-building measure and aims at stabilizing and easing interstate relations and to foster the willingness to cooperation amongst states, thus strengthening regional and international peace and stability.

Terms, notes on methodology or reading aids

The category of heavy weapons systems comprises battle tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, combat helicopters, combat aircraft, warships and rockets. They are defined as larger machines that can be used in immediate combat and integrate various military needs (movement, firepower, etc.) into one system. These systems differ from small arms and light weapons (SALW) that can be carried by one or two persons and from non-conventional weapons, such as nuclear bombs or poisonous gas. The delivery systems of non-conventional weapons, however, belong to the category of heavy weapons systems. The largest exporting countries of heavy weapons systems are Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States.

Conventional weapons and weapons systems, their ammunition or other weapons are to be treated separately from projectiles accelerated by propellants or explosive devices. These can only be called conventional when they are not reinforced by nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Battle tanks, combat aircraft and SALW are all conventional weapons. Wars fought with conventional weapons were the norm until poisonous gas was used in the 1920s. Conventional weapons are commonly used in conflicts—in civil wars they used nearly exclusively.

Data sources

UNODA (United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs) The United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs is an office of the United Nations Secretariat. The General Assembly calls upon all members of the United Nations to present an annual report about their im- and exports of weapons. UNODA, since mid-2011, has published an online overview that is based on these country reports—the Global Reported Arms Trade.

The Global Reported Arms Trade - the UN Register of Conventional Arms

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