Reports that the Russians have overtaken the Americans for top position in the world defence market are flawed, a top British Government analyst says at Farnborough ‘96.

A US Congressional Research Service survey released just prior to Farnborough ‘96 claims that the Russians had leapt to pole position with $6 billion in sales to the developing world in 1995, ahead of the Americans with only $3.8 billion.

France was third with $2.4 billion, Italy made $800 million in sales for fourth while Britain limped in a poor fifth place with only $500 million, it says.


Major drop

The survey also reports a major drop in defence exports to the developing world from $61 billion in 1988 to only $15.4 last year.

Russia's new-found strength was based on the sale of Sukhoi Su-27 fighter-bombers to mainland China and Vietnam.

Britain's Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), refuting the American survey, puts the US number one with $19 billion in sales last year.

Britain comes second with $8 billion with the French close behind with $7.5 billion, while Russian could only manage $2.5 billion, says John Hadley, DESO's head of market research.

One senior British source describes the American survey as a "load of cobblers".



Hadley says the survey was flawed. "It only looked at sales to the developing world. It just considered US Government orders administered under Foreign Military Sales programme and excluded American commercial deals.

"The position of the Russians is very misleading - most of their stuff is being swapped for bad debts. So we think they are only doing a third to half of the business they are claiming."

As far as Britain's alleged poor showing is concerned, Hadley says it "... totally ignored" the Al Yamamah deal with Saudi Arabia.

Hadley counters US claims that the defence export market is collapsing. "The value of the market according to our research was $41 billion in 1995," he says.

"The trend is downward from a peak of $61 billion in 1993 and $45 billion in 1994 but it is not collapsing. We forecast it levelling out at $39 billion a year for the next five years."

DESO research breaks down the defence market by region, with the Middle East remaining a big market with $15 billion in 1995 - equal to Europe - while Asia Pacific spends $8 billion, North America $2 billion, Latin America $500 million and Africa $300 million.



"It is our assessment that the market will pick up after 2000," says Hadley, who predicts that the "... big deals will come."

Some market analysts have identified Latin America as a future growth market for new fighter sales but Hadley says it would "...not be a serious market for the rest of this decade. They have a significant shopping list but how are they going to pay for it."



Source: Flight Daily News