According to SIPRI's survey of signed contracts, the United States sold 341 fighter aircraft in 2005-2009, up from 286 in the previous five years. Russia's combat-aircraft sales dropped from 331 to 219 and French sales rose from 58 to 75 in the same period.
The leading seller was the United States; the leading buyers were India, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, which together accounted for about one-third, in terms of value, of all global arms transfers in 2005-2009.
Fifty non-producer countries bought 995 new and used combat aircraft in 2005-2009. Israel bought 82, Poland, 48; China, 45; Yemen, 37; Jordan, 36; Syria, 33; Algeria, 32; Chile, 28; Venezuela, 24; Pakistan, 23; and Bangladesh, 16.
Of the producer countries, India bought the most aircraft,115, while the United States bought 33.
Just 11 nations make such aircraft, the report said. Besides the United States, France, Russia and India, there are China, Japan, Sweden, and the four members of the Eurofighter program, Germany, Italy, Britain and Spain.
The recent increase in global sales of combat aircraft could have a destabilizing effect in many parts of the world, the report said.
"Many importers of combat aircraft are located in regions of serious international tensions. While combat aircraft are often presented as one of the most important weapons needed for defense, these same aircraft give countries possessing them the potential to easily and with little warning strike deep into neighboring countries," said Siemon Wezeman, a SIPRI Arms Transfers Program analyst and author of the report.
The report noted that bigger combat aircraft deals are in the pipeline, and are being hotly contested by leading makers, such as Boeing, Dassault, Saab and the Eurofighter consortium.