Written by Nathan Mathiot, Security Policy Advisor, and Andy Johnston, Defence Policy Advisor – ADS

The latest UK defence and security export statistics have just been released by the Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO). They paint a healthy picture of the UK defence and security industry, notwithstanding the prevailing headwinds in the global economy, continuing to go from strength to strength. These statistics underline how these two sectors are respected around the globe and play a key role in protecting UK citizens at home, abroad and online.

Defence exports

In 2018 the UK won defence orders worth £14bn, up £5bn on the previous year. This rise has come about thanks to significant deals such as the sale of Typhoon aircraft to Qatar (the first batch of which will be received in late 2020), the Hawk aircraft to Oman, and a number of smaller deals such as the sale of off-shore patrol vehicles to Brazil.

The global defence market continues to experience fluctuations year-on-year as nations gauge threat levels and set their requirements accordingly. In recent years the UK, Russia and France have vied for second place (behind the United States) in the list of global exporters; in 2018 the UK achieved second place.

The UK’s export success remains largely down to sales to the Middle Eastern market (comprising 60% of sales in 2009 – 2018) and the sale of defence aerospace equipment and support services (comprising 88% of all orders/contracts signed 2009 – 2018).

Security exports

The UK security industry is primarily composed of SMEs, but this hasn’t stopped the sector from supplying a wide range of world-leading capabilities around the globe. From pioneering counter-drone detector systems to the latest cyber incident response services, UK security companies help to keep citizens safe at home, abroad and online. As demonstration of this success, the UK continues to be the world’s 4th largest security exporter, with 7.5% growth in exports from 2017 to 2018.

Breaking the £5bn mark at £5.2bn of exports in 2018 (up from £4.7bn in 2017), the UK is Europe’s largest security exporter, only beaten by the USA, China and Japan globally. The UK is therefore well-positioned to take advantage of the burgeoning global security market, which saw just over £60bn of exports in the same year. The UK security industry’s largest target market remains Europe, accounting for a half of all sales, followed thereafter by North America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

The leading sub-sector by capability area continues to be cyber-security. At over £2bn of exports in 2018, UK cyber security exports grew by a remarkable 13% on 2017, very much in line with the overall global market growth. Cyber security now accounts for 40% of all UK security exports, with sales in critical national infrastructure (23%), managed services (16%), and policing and counter-terrorism (14%) following behind. This is one reason why ADS proudly runs the Digital Information and Systems Integrity Group, representing over 60 member companies in this high-growth sub-sector.

For ADS’s official statement on the latest export statistics please visit here.