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Warplane sales 'destabilising': Swedish think tank
Sweden produces and exports the Saab Gripen

Warplane sales 'destabilising': Swedish think tank

Published: 10 Nov 2010 08:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Nov 2010 08:10 GMT+01:00

Combat planes account for one third of all global arms transfers, with the United States topping the list of sellers and India, the United Arab Emirates and Israel the biggest buyers, according to the think tank.

In a report published Wednesday, just a week before China opens its massive

airshow in Zhuhai, the independent Swedish institute cautioned that increased sales of combat aircraft could have a destabilising effect in many parts of the world.

Between 2005 and 2009, according to the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States had sold 341 fighter jets, up from 286 planes sold during the previous five-year period, while Russia sold 219 planes, down from 331, and France sold 75, up from 58.

Only 11 of the world's countries figure on the list of combat aircraft producers: the United States, Russia, China, France, Sweden, India and Japan on their own, and Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain as part of the Eurofighter consortium.

However, the list of buyers is far longer.

During the five-year period, more than 50 countries, including Algeria (32), Bangladesh (16), Israel (82), Jordan (36), Pakistan (23), Syria (33), Venezuela (24), Chile (28), Poland (48), China (45) and Yemen (37), purchased a total of 995 new and second-hand fighter planes.

Not to mention the producer countries themselves, with India buying most combat aircraft during the period with 115 planes and the United States purchasing 33.

On their own, India, the United Arab Emirates and Israel accounted for nearly a third of all fighter jet purchases, and SIPRI cautions, "many other importers of combat aircraft lie in regions of serious international tensions."

"While combat aircraft are often presented as one of the most important weapons needed for defence, these same aircraft give countries possessing them the potential to easily and with little warning strike deep into neighbouring countries," said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme and the author of the study.

Clear examples of this, according to SIPRI, were the Israeli air attack on Syria in September 2007 and the Russian air strike on Georgia in August 2008.

"Acquisitions of combat aircraft thus clearly can have a major destabilising effect on regions," Wezeman said.

Ironically, the report stressed, "while the transfer of ballistic and cruise missiles and their technology has been high on the arms control and export control agendas in part because of their capability to carry nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, the transfer of advanced combat aircraft and air-to-ground missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads is not."

For producer countries, the economic gains from the planes are significant: "the more advanced aircraft cost over $40 million dollars each and often substantially more," according to SIPRI, adding however that the actual price of such a plane is difficult to estimate.

In fact, the Swedish institute quoted the September 16, 2009 edition of Jane's Defence Weekly showing that while Norway calculated it paid $54 million for each of its American F35 fighters, the Pentagon estimates it pulled in $97 million for the exact same planes.

In any case, "producers promote sales because they lead to substantial income and employment," said SIPRI.

For instance, the Eurofighter consortium cashed in six and seven billion dollars by selling 72 planes to Saudi Arabia, while Australia paid the United States $4.8 billion for 24 F/A-18E planes and India dished out $1.5-1.6 billion for 40 Russian Su-30MKI planes.

The astronomical sums help explain the cut-throat competition to win deals like Brasilia's long-running tender to buy 36 new fighter jets.

France's Rafale by Dassault, Sweden's Gripen NG by Saa, and the US-made F/A-18 Super Hornet by Boeing are all vying for the lucrative contract, estimated to be worth up to seven billion dollars.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

10:31 November 10, 2010 by jbat
Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

God Bless America! (only America!)
10:39 November 10, 2010 by Keith #5083
The sales of combat aircraft in Europe have had a...destabilising effect? As with guns, alcohol and so many other things in life, it is not the thing but the user. I don't think the word 'combat' is defined as defensive or offensive, it can be either.

The SIPRI report, as reported in the media, is stating a fairly obvious fact. I prefer SMHI reports that clearly state that adverse weather conditions WILL have a destabilising effect upon our lifestyle.
11:21 November 10, 2010 by jbat
@Keith...

What happen to you man.. can you distinguish between weapon and non weapon..

If not.. better you suggest that the sale of burger from Burger King too can have destabilising effect on human societies... same effect as the sale of weapons that USA, USA, USA like to do (and at the same time this country act as the World Police too!)
14:05 November 10, 2010 by KungsholmenGuy
Such a report would only be convincing if it can make a strong case that conflicting natons that have not bought foregin combat aircraft would have engaged in no other form of military or terrorist activity at land or at sea, or between domestically produced combat aircraft,..
16:07 November 10, 2010 by millionmileman
Of course there are more buying countries than manufacturing countries and those producing countries provide good paying jobs. Thank God Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 which was the day the saved the world, hardly destabilizing.

The AK-47 is probably the most dangerous weapon since WWII. Used by communist insurgents who destabilized so many nations and works every time it's tried, requiring practically no maintenance from the revolutionaries.

Gripen Up
18:13 November 10, 2010 by maxbrando
What is this article saying?? Of course weapons destabilize places where people want and use them!! And if Sweden stops selling them outside the country, that is GREAT news for the rest of the manufacturers. Go for it, Sweden. Stop selling them!!
20:46 November 10, 2010 by rizzzq
they should stop selling them to the 3rd world countries. imagine a world without al-qaeda, OBL captured/killed, taliban defeated, kashmir issue resolved.. will the war based economies like US (sweden??) survive?... no way

al-qaeda and taliban and kashmir were never so profitable
00:17 November 11, 2010 by Keith #5083
@jbat

even religious books can be used as weapons and have destabilising effects in society.

A knife can be a weapon, it can also be a means of service when used by a chef, or a life saver when used by a surgeon.

It is not the item, per se, that defines it as a weapon - but the intention of the user. Thus, 'combat aircraft' are not necessarily offensive but can also be defensive.

As for your choice of the USA as a 'weapons seller' you have somewhat narrow vision - or have you forgotten about China and Russia?

Of course, if the Palestinians had the same level of weaponry as Israel then it could potentially be destabilising (like it's stable there now?) It could also, conceivably, be stabilising as then neither side would be unequal and sensible negotiations would have to happen to resolve the issues.
00:30 November 11, 2010 by Swedesmith
If you want peace, prepare for war - Flavius Vegetius
08:54 November 11, 2010 by jbat
But USA is the World Police while China and Russia not!

China and Russia not attacking other country (at least Russia not do it openly, directly i case of Afghan)...

If you want peace, prepare for war.. then when your "opponent" do it.. you label them as evil power.. GOOD American!
11:08 November 11, 2010 by Keith #5083
@jbat

I totally agree with what you have written when you say "not do it openly". That is the fundamental difference. Chinese and Russian weaponry can be, and is, found in almost every 'destabilised area' in the world.

I am not American, and have no wish to be, but simply seek balance in the current 'let's blame everything on America' fashion. Which country was donating the most food and medical aid to Saddam Hussein's Iraq? It's as bad as saying every Muslim is a jihadist, the great majority of which are absolutely not!

The old system of seeking to unite a nation and camouflage it's own bad government by picking on or creating a common enemy is no longer credible in the internet 'free flow of information' age.
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