Foreign sales of US weapons rose to US$34.8 billion in fiscal year 2011 and should hover around US$30 billion this year, the Pentagon says.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Pentagon agency that oversees foreign arms sales, said sales in the fiscal year that ended on September 30 topped US$30 billion for the fourth consecutive year after reaching $31.6 billion in fiscal 2010.
Strong export prospects are good news for U.S. weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, which hope to offset declining US defence spending with bigger sales overseas.
Such sales, the Pentagon said, support US national defence and foreign policy “by helping our partners acquire the defence articles, services, and training they need to provide for their own defence and to be interoperable with the United States and partner nations during coalition operations.”
The Pentagon said government-to-government foreign military sales totalled US$28.3 billion in fiscal 2011, while other sales managed by various government agencies reached US$6.5 billion. The Pentagon had projected government-to-government sales would reach US$36.3 billion for the year ending September 30.
Afghanistan, Taiwan, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia were top buyers of U.S. arms last year, the Defense Department said. Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Japan and Sweden were the next largest buyers.
The DSCA said it expected foreign military sales were expected to continue to be about US$30 billion for fiscal year 2012, but official projections were still being calculated.
The top ten FMS customers for fiscal year 2011 were the Afghan Security Forces (US$5.4 billion); Taiwan (US $4.9 billion); India (US$4.5 billion); Australia (US$3.9 billion); Saudi Arabia (US$3.5 billion); Iraq (US$2.0 billion); the United Arab Emirates (US$1.5 billion); Israel (US$1.4 billion); Japan (US$0.5 billion); and Sweden (US$0.5 billion).
In April, Richard Genaille, deputy director of the DSCA, said fiscal year 2011 sales would exceed US$46 billion, “higher than ever” because of demand for aircraft and air-defence systems. However, this target was not met.
One of the biggest items that did not go through in 2011 was a potential US$6.95 billion sale of Theatre High Altitude Area Defence, or Thaad, missile defence system made by Lockheed Martin to the United Arab Emirates. UAE has scaled back its request by one-third and, if the sale goes through, the country will be the first international buyer of the system.