U.S. Dominates International Arms Sales and Deliveries

 - September 7, 2012, 12:50 PM
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle. The $29.5 billion sale of new and upgraded F-15s to Saudi Arabia helped the U.S. dominate international arms sales. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

In 2011, for the eighth year in a row, the U.S. ranked first among exporters in the value of arms delivered. Helped by a huge sale of F-15s and other weaponry to Saudi Arabia in December, it also dominated in negotiating arms transfer agreements for future deliveries, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS).

In an annual update to Congress dated August 24, the CRS said international arms deliveries in 2011 totaled $44.3 billion, an increase from the $41.2 billion in deliveries in 2010. The U.S. accounted for $16.2 billion, or 36.5 percent of the deliveries last year. Russia ranked second at $8.7 billion and the UK was third at $3 billion. Sixty-three percent of all deliveries were made to developing nations.

The value of arms transfer agreements to both developed and developing nations in 2011 was $85.3 billion, nearly twice the previous-year total of $44.5 billion and “by far” the highest amount since 2004, the CRS said. Agreements with developing countries represented 84 percent of the value. The U.S. was responsible for 78 percent, or $66.3 billion, of all agreements, triple the value of arms transfer agreements that it concluded in 2010 ($21.4 billion). “This is the highest single-year agreements total in the history of the U.S. arms export program,” the CRS said.

Russia ranked a distant second with $4.8 billion in arms transfer agreements, down from $8.9 billion in 2010. Nearly all other major arms suppliers experienced declines with the exception of France, whose arms transfer agreements increased to $4.4 billion from $1.8 billion in 2010.

Last year the U.S. concluded a $29.5 billion sale to Saudi Arabia of 84 new Boeing F-15SA and 70 upgraded F-15S multirole fighters, with associated weapons and logistics support. The U.S. also sold 36 Boeing AH-64D Apache and 72 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia. Other major sales included deals with the UAE for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system components and 16 Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters; with Oman for 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 50/52 fighters; with Iraq for 18 F-16IQ fighters; with India for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transports; and with Taiwan for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 firing units and missiles.

Saudi Arabia ranked first among developing nations in ordering weapons, with $33.7 billion in arms transfer agreements, 99 percent with the U.S. India ranked second with $6.9 billion in agreements and the UAE third with $4.5 billion.

Russia’s largest arms transfer agreements in 2011 included the sale of 36 Yak-130 fighter/trainers to Syria for $550 million and of 123 AL31FN turbofan engines to China for $500 million. China recorded $2.1 billion in arms transfer agreements in 2011, in part from continuing contracts with Pakistan. “China does not appear likely to be a key supplier of major conventional weapons in the developing world arms market in the immediate future,” the CRS said.