British manufacturers recorded second highest figure ever in 2019 despite court order restricting sales to Saudi Arabia

A Tornado warplane of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Saudi Arabia’s airforce is armed with BAE fighter jets. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP via Getty Images

British manufacturers exported £11bn worth of arms during 2019 – the second highest figure on record – despite a court order that the UK must halt any sales to Saudi Arabia that could be used in Yemen.

UK exports also exceeded those of Russia and France for the second year in a row, according to official figures released by the Department for International Trade (DIT), placing Britain number two in the global rankings behind the US.

Orders were down from last year’s £14bn, reflecting what the department said was “the volatile nature of the global export market for defence” but the £11bn total for 2019 is only the second time the £10bn mark has been surpassed in a year.