According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) latest report, Singapore has achieved the dubious distinction of being one of the 10 largest importers of major weapons globally [http://books.sipri.org/files/FS/SIPRIFS1503.pdf]:
From 2010 to 2014, Singapore’s share of international arms imports stood at 3%.
Singapore imports 71% of its weapons from the United States of America – with whom it has excellent relations. This is followed by Germany (10%) and Sweden (6%). These 3 countries together account for 87% of Singapore’s weapon imports.
The top 5 arms importers – India, Saudi Arabia, China, the UAE and Pakistan – accounted for 33% of total arms imports from 2010 to 2014.
Asia and Oceania accounted for nearly half of imports, followed by the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Africa.
In the case of Asia and Oceania, arms imports increased 37% in the periods 2005 to 2009 and 2010 to 2014. States in the region received 48% of all imports from 2010 to 2014, up from 40% in the period 2005 to 2009.
The 10 largest importers in the period 2010 to 2014 feature 6 countries from Asia and Oceania:
Many South-East Asian nations modernized and expanded their fleet of combat aircraft in 2010–2014. Several also ordered tanker aircraft that significantly expand the reach of combat aircraft.
Singapore received 32 F-15E combat aircraft from the United States in 2010–14 and in 2014 ordered 6 A330 tanker aircraft from Spain. The island state is a minor partner in the USA’s F-35A combat aircraft programme and is expected to place an order in the near future, SIPRI reported.
Russia delivered 24 Su-30 aircraft to Vietnam and 8 more are on order.
Indonesia, a moderately Muslim nation, received 3 Su-27 and 6 Su-30 aircraft from Russia and the first 5 of 24 F-16C aircraft from the USA. It also received 16 T-50 light combat aircraft from South Korea. Indonesia has placed an order for 50 KFX combat aircraft from South Korea and has plans to procure a large number of new combat and tanker aircraft.
The Philippines ordered 12 FA-50 combat aircraft from South Korea in 2014 (its first order for advanced combat aircraft in decades) and plans to order a further 24 combat aircraft.
Thailand received 12 Gripen-C combat aircraft from Sweden.
Malaysia is looking at several potential suppliers for a planned order of 18 new combat aircraft and has 4 A400M tanker/transport aircraft on order from Spain.
It is not known if the purchase of advanced combat aircraft was triggered by an implicit “arms race” among the South-East Asian countries.
Meanwhile, China has become the world’s third largest exporter of arms after the US and Russia, according to the same report.
China overtook Germany, France and the UK in exporting weapons in 2010-2014. The fast-modernising Middle Kingdom now accounts for about 5% of the world’s exports of arms. The top 3 countries which China exports its weapons to are Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, notwithstanding a minor diplomatic row with Myanmar over a bomb dropped by a Myanmarese plane that has killed 4 Chinese in south-western China [Link].
China also had 18 African nations as clients during the 5-year period, according to the study.
Should the Little Red Dot – relatively small in terms of size and population – have such a disproportionately large weapons trove as to be ranked among the world’s top 10 arms importers? Or should we make more non-military investments in areas such as education and healthcare instead?
What do you think?