Global Military Spending

Did you know that in 2012 the world’s countries spent approximately $1.7 trillion on military spending.

The 2012 figures showed the US as still number one, but China and Russia were catching up fast.

Although the figures had barely changed from 2011, they masked differences between the East and West. There were big decreases in the West which were countered by big increases in China, Russia and some Middle eastern countries.

The key numbers showed that:

  • The US remained, by far, the biggest military spender, with a defence budget of $711 billion in 2011.
  • Second was China, which spent an estimated $143bn on its armed forces in 2011. China had increased its military spending by 170% in real terms since 2002.
  • Russia spent nearly $72bn on arms in 2011, overtaking Britain ($62.7bn) and France ($62.5bn). Russia was planning further increases, with draft budgets showing a 53% rise in real terms up to 2014.
  • India had increased military spending by 66% since 2002. While both internal conflicts and the long-running dispute with Pakistan remained key issues, India viewed China as a rival for regional power.
  • Vietnam had increased military spending by 82% since 2003, and had invested heavily in its navy in recent years, partly due to tensions with China in the South China Sea

The figures has since been updated for 2013 and 2014.


Rogers, S. (2012) Military Spending: How Much does the Military Cost Each Country, Listed. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 02 August, 2015].

SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute):


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