UK defence industry tops export league

The UK was the world̵7;s biggest exporter of defence products in 2007, winning £10bn of new business and a third of the total market, according to new figures from UK Trade & Investment̵7;s Defence and Security Organisation.

The Middle East and North America remained the UK̵7;s most profitable regional markets, with Saudi Arabia and the USA respectively the top customers.

Over the last five years, the US has been the biggest exporter with cumulative sales of $63bn. The UK is second with $53bn, followed by Russia ($33bn), France ($17bn), and Germany and Israel with $9bn. In the same period Saudi Arabia has imported the most ($31bn), India second ($18bn) and the US third ($17bn).

UKTI said the return to higher spending in the Middle East was one of several factors behind the sustained upswing in the world market seen in recent years. It also highlighted continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and increasing spending on homeland security.

Ian Godden, chief executive of industry body  the Society of British Aerospace Companies, warned that the UK will need to work hard to retain its position at the front of the pack.

"This success is built on investment made in the 1990s and, if we are to continue to reap these economic benefits in the future, this investment will need to be maintained,̶1; he said. ̶0;The industry, in addition to its key role as a provider of the best equipment and services for the UK armed forces, provides high-value, high-technology employment across the regions of Britain. We lead the way in employing apprentices and generating spin-offs such as satellite navigation and flat-screen televisions to make civilian life better, too.̶1;

Image: The UK claims a third of the global defence market

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