Merchants of Death

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A photographer captures the glamor and flash of international weapons shows. Guillaume Herbaut/INSTITUTE

Just like cars and lingerie, tanks and missiles have their own shows. These events, known as war shows, are not well known to the general public. But they draw large numbers of people from the global defense industry. In Jordan, France, Qatar, and India, photographer Guillaume Herbaut visited these modern-day arms bazaars where militaries can purchase weapons like missiles, tanks, drones, riot gear—even solid gold pistols. The arms and weapons industry is a worldwide business, whose main exporters last year were the U.S., Russia, China, Ukraine, and the European Union. In the same year, the total global military expenditure was estimated to be $1.7 trillion. It's a world where power, money, and technology intersect: a global death market.

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At a conference called SOFEX in Amman, Jordan, members of the international defence industry gather to focus on the tactics and technology of special operations. Guillaume Herbaut
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Jordanians inspect guns made by a Turkish company at SOFEX, the Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference. Guillaume Herbaut
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A gun on display at the Eurosatory Exhibition in Paris. Guillaume Herbaut
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A low-flying plane and rows of Bedouin guards kick off the Special Forces Exhibition and Conference in Amman, Jordan. Guillaume Herbaut
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Visitors at the Eurosatory Exhibition in France kick the tires on the Battle Tank MBT, made by the German company Rheinmetall. Guillaume Herbaut
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The Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference in Jordan brought in over 500 delegates from international special operations forces and the military industry. Here, a moment at the entrance of the Royal Hotel in Amman during the conference. Guillaume Herbaut
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This golden gun for sale in France is made by the Turkish company Sasilmaz. Guillaume Herbaut
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At the Defexpo India opening ceremony, the man with the sunglasses is a delegate from Belarus. Guillaume Herbaut
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Billowy black rises during a weapons demonstration at the opening of the weapons conference in Jordan. Guillaume Herbaut
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In New Delhi at the Defexpo India weapons show, two civilians wield weapons at a stand run by Arsenal, a Bulgarian company. Guillaume Herbaut
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Members of the Jordanian military greet visitors with tea at their booth during the weapons show and conference in Amman. Guillaume Herbaut
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A vendor’s stand at the Milipol Qatar exhibition in Doha. Guillaume Herbaut
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Masaku Paul Mutul, a representative from the Kenyan military, tries out a weapon in New Delhi. Guillaume Herbaut
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The Turkish company Sarsilmaz uses the image of a woman—and a horse—to sell handguns at the weapons conference in Amman. Guillaume Herbaut
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A moment from a live weapons demonstration in France. Guillaume Herbaut
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Blue saris and smiles adorn the two hostesses from weapons maker Ordnance Factory Board, a part of the Indian Ministry of Defense. Guillaume Herbaut
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These missiles on display in France are made by the Israeli company Rafael Air Defense. Guillaume Herbaut
Merchants of Death | World