The unprecedented growth in global military spending is an alarming sign that the dark days of the Cold War may be back, according to the annual Jane’s Defense Budgets Report.
Jane’s Information Group is a British publishing company specializing in military, aerospace and transportation topics. If the report is correct, global defense outlays will continue their five-year consecutive growth into next year to hit a post-Cold War record of a whopping $1.67 trillion.
According to the report, released on Monday, the 3.3 percent projected growth in 2018, the fastest in a decade, is driven by the burgeoning US defense budget which jumped from $636.2 billion in 2016 to $642.9 billion in 2017.
With around $10 trillion spent on arms since the 9/11 attacks in 2011, US military spending accounts for a hefty 40 percent of the global figure, and impacts trends worldwide.
According to Jane’s analyst Guy Eastman, Washington will be spending more on “ballistic missile defense, shipbuilding, missiles and munitions, space-based systems, and C4ISR [Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] systems.”
In the Middle East, defense spending is trending upward again after a brief letup last year. Iran slightly outspends Israel, but both are dwarfed by Saudi Arabia, which has ramped up its defense budget to a very impressive $50.9 billion.
In Europe, nine NATO member-states, whose military budgets have been growing since 2015, will meet the 2-percent-of-GDP benchmark for defense outlays in 2018.
East European countries will be the fastest growing region in the world in 2018, as several countries try to increase their defense outlays to 2 percent of GDP. Growth has been particularly evident in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which plan to more than double their defense spending compared to 2014.
They already meet NATO’s benchmark for defense outlays.
Asia and the Pacific
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have been spending less on defense in 2017 due, among other things, to smaller increases in China and India.
After the US, China and India are the second and third ranked countries in defense spending with $192.5 billion and $52.4 billion respectively.
The Jane’s Annual Defense Budgets Report tracks 99 percent of global defense expenditures from 105 of the world’s largest defense budgets.
It was released by global information analyzer and distributor IHS Markit.