Iraq
Escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific is driving global defence trade figure, according to a new report. Seen here is an Iraqi Shiite fighter supporting Iraqi government forces in the battle against the Islamic State (Isis) group in the village of Albu Ajil, east of the northern city of Tikrit as smoke rises on the horizon on March 8, 2015 during a military operation to regain control of the Tikrit area from IS militants.Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has overtaken India as the world's biggest defence equipment importer, according to a new report published by analysts at the Jane's Information Group on 8 March.

The report by the London-based defence specialists examined defence market across 65 countries and discovered that Saudi Arabia had spent over $6.4 billion (£4.26bn) on defence in 2014 taking over the lead from India's $5.57 billon (£3.7bn) defence trade spending.

Saudi Arabia was found to have increased its defence imports by 54 per cent in the last year with one out of every seven dollars spent on defence exports in 2015 to be spent by the Kingdom.

Defense and Aviation Analyst, Ben Moores, at IHS Janes said the figure has been driven by, "unparallelled demand from the emerging economies for military aircraft and an escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific."

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates jointly imported an estimated $8.6bn (£5.72) worth of defence equipment in 2014.

China was found to be the third largest importer.

"China continues to require military aerospace assistance from Russia and its total defence procurement budget will continue to rise very quickly," said Paul Burton, director of defence industry and budgets at IHS Janes.

South Korea was found to be moving fast up the ranking as a potential regional leader for defence imports.

"South Korea looks set to be the rising star of the Asia Pacific defence industry," said the report.

Meanwhile, the United States maintained its ranking as the top exporter, sending out an estimated $23.7bn (£15.76bn) worth of equipment. Russia was found to come second with an export figure of $10bn (£6.65bn).

"The biggest beneficiary of the strong Middle Eastern market remains the US, with $8.4 billion worth of Middle Eastern exports in 2014, compared to $6 billion in 2013," said the report.

For Russia, the report said: "A drop-off in exports is forecast for 2015 as major programmes draw to a close, a trend that could be accelerated by sanctions.

"Furthermore, falls in the oil price are set to have a devastating impact on some lead Russian clients who are vulnerable to low oil prices, such as Venezuela and Iran."

The present global defence trade stands at $64.4 billion (£42.82), confirmed the report.