ARMS manufacturer BAE Systems saw record orders in 2022 amid an “elevated threat environment” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Britain’s biggest defence firm reported its highest ever order intake of £37.1 billion for last year, which saw its order backlog jump to £58.9bn.

The FTSE 100-listed firm posted flat operating profits of £2.4bn, but said earnings on an underlying basis rose 5.5% to £2.5bn as sales on its preferred measure rose 4.4% to £23.3bn.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon in letter to refugees on anniversary of Ukraine war

BAE Systems said: “While it is tragic that it took a war in Europe to raise the awareness of the importance of defence around the globe, BAE Systems is well positioned to help national governments keep their citizens safe and secure in an elevated threat environment.”

The group said it expects sales to rise further in 2023, by between 3% and 5%, while underlying earnings are forecast to increase by 4% to 6%.

BAE – which builds ships, submarines and fighter jets – lifted its final shareholder dividend payout to 15.2p from 14.3p in 2021.

READ MORE: Keep Scotland Beautiful urged to reject cash from arms dealers BAE Systems

But shares in the firm fell 3% in morning trading on Thursday as its pre-tax profits came in below City expectations, at £1.99bn against £2.11bn in 2021.

The group had hiked its outlook in November on the boom in global military spending.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE, said: “We’ve delivered another year of strong results across the group.

“Our record orders and financial performance give us confidence in delivering long-term growth and to continue investing in new technologies, facilities and thousands of highly skilled jobs, whilst increasing shareholder returns.”

Vice chair of the Stop the War coalition Chris Nineham said it was "sickening" to see arms firms profiting from the war.

He said: "One of the most sickening things about the war in Ukraine is that arms manufacturers are racking up record returns on the news that the war is projected to continue for months at least.

"This is a war now being fought by the big powers and it is big business that will benefit and ordinary people who will, as ever, be the victims."

Meanwhile, Greens MSP Ross Greer also criticised the company.

“BAE has a long and shameful history of arming and supporting some of the most abusive despots and dictatorships anywhere in the world," he said.

"When they see war and conflict they treat it as a business opportunity, regardless of the consequences.

“BAE’s fighter jets have played a central role in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, killing thousands of children.

“These eye watering profits do not come from any principled opposition to Putin or commitment to human rights. They are coming from long and shameful relationships with similarly brutal regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia.”

The National: Strike rally on Buchanan Street for university lecturers on day 2 of strike action. Pictured is Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Greens..Photograph by Colin Mearns.25 November 2022.

Alba MP Neale Hanvey added: “It seems there is a never ending supply of funding for arms, and profits for shareholders from the human misery of war. 

“No one condones acts of aggression such as those of Vladimir Putin, however the lack of appetite for diplomacy to prevent escalating the conflict is disheartening.

“Scotland’s people stand in solidarity with all peoples suffering in the theatre of war.

"Preventing escalation must be the first priority of all Scottish politicians."