By Andy Sambidge
New report by Deloitte say increasing budget is linked to programmes including new and re-fitted F-15 fighter aircraft
Saudi Arabia increased its annual defence spending by $16 billion over the past five years, according to a new report by Deloitte.
Its Global Defence Outlook 2014 study said the Gulf kingdom was one of the top six military spenders in the world.
The report said Saudi Arabia’s increasing defence budget is tied to new capital programmes including new and re-fitted F-15 fighter aircraft totalling nearly $30 billion.
In December, Saudi Arabia said it was interested in buying thousands of missiles from the United States in a deal worth more than $1bn.
Other Middle East countries included among the top 50 spenders worldwide include the UAE, Oman, Iraq, Kuwait, and Egypt, Deloitte added.
Globally, Deloitte said fundamental shifts in defence policies around the world are occurring with Russia’s moves in Crimea, Japan’s efforts to revitalise its defence, China’s military buildup, and US debates over post-war defence spending all set to continue to have a significant effect on defence spending.
The report said the defence ministries of 50 nations accounts for more than 92 percent of global defence outlays, are looked at in-depth.
Six nations – the United States, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and France - generate 60 percent of global defence spending and adaptation, collaboration and investment are predicted to be the top-priority for defence management strategies in the coming years, Deloitte said.
The report also said that of the 25 lowest-income members of the top 50 defence spenders in the world, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Algeria and Morocco along with Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Pakistan, Russia and Ukraine are all increasing their annual defence spending over the next 2-5 years.
It added that the largest absolute defence budget increases worldwide are likely to come from Brazil, China, India and Russia.
In April, a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Saudi Arabia had leapfrogged the United Kingdom, Japan and France to become the world’s fourth largest military spender in 2013.
The report said military spending in the Middle East increased by four percent in 2013, reaching an estimated $150 billion.
Saudi Arabia’s spending increased by 14 percent, to reach $67 billion, possibly due to tensions with Iran but also the desire to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential ‘Arab Spring’ type protests.