Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Global arms manufacturers increased sales in 2016 -- the first increase of worldwide weapon distribution since 2010, according to data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Weapons sales totaled $374.8 billion in 2016, which was 1.9 percent higher than 2015's sales totals. SIPRI said last year's increase in weapons sales was the first time a rise occurred after five consecutive years of decline.
American weapons companies accounted for 58 percent of all weapons sales, taking in $217.2 billion in 2016, a 4 percent increase from the year before.
"U.S. military operations overseas as well as acquisitions of large weapon systems by other countries have driven this rise," SIPRI said.
U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms producer, saw the biggest gains in 2016 with a 10.7 percent increase in sales.
"With the acquisition of helicopter producer Sikorsky in late 2015 and higher delivery volumes of the F-35 combat aircraft, Lockheed Martin reported significant growth in its arms sales in 2016," said Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI's Arms and Military Expenditure Program.
SIPRI's report found that Russian weapons sales increased by 3.8 percent, totaling $26.6 billion in 2016. But the pace of growth for Russian weapons manufacturers has slowed due to the country's economic problems, SIPRI found.
Brazil, India, South Korea and Turkey are categorized as "emerging producers" of weapons as they increase their output and share of the worldwide weapons dealing industry. And 2016 belonged to South Korea weapons companies as the country's government increased purchases.
"Continuing and rising threat perceptions drive South Korea's acquisitions of military equipment, and it is increasingly turning to its own arms industry to supply its demand for weapons," said SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman. "At the same time, South Korea is aiming to realize its goal of becoming a major arms exporter."