London, 14 February 2017: There has been no reduction in the range and number of security challenges demanding the attention of policymakers. Conflict and insecurity continue in Africa, the Middle East and, in the case of Ukraine, in Europe too. North Korea still develops and tests its missile capabilities. More attacks in 2016 highlighted the challenge from transnational terrorists. More states are willing to take military action in pursuit of their national security objectives.
Meanwhile, the balance of global military spending continues to shift towards Asia.
From 2012 to 2016, real-terms defence spending across Asia grew by 5–6% each year. However, total global military spending in 2016 fell by 0.4% in real terms when compared to 2015, largely driven by reductions in the Middle East. The fall would have been larger were it not offset by increases in Asia. After overtaking Europe as the second largest defence spending region in 2012, Asia in 2016 spent 1.3 times more than Europe on defence when measured in constant 2010 US$.
Western military technological superiority, once taken for granted, is increasingly challenged. We now judge that in some capability areas, particularly in the air domain, China appears to be reaching near-parity with the West. Also, Beijing is now beginning to offer for export some of its modern military systems. Across the globe advanced military capabilities are spreading. There is a growing proliferation of lethality, and the increasing sophistication of these systems risks complicating Western states’ military options.
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The Military Balance 2017, released on 14 February 2016, is now available to order.
The Military Balance is The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ annual assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries worldwide. It is an essential resource for those involved in security policymaking, analysis and research.