WASHINGTON – The US hit $33.6 billion for foreign weapon sales in fiscal year 2016, down $13 billion from the record-setting FY 2015 number.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Tuesday that it cleared $2.9 billion of Foreign Military Financing-funded cases; $5.0 billion in Building Partner Capacity-funded cases; and $25.7 billion funded by partner nations.
Among sales that were cleared in 2016 were $785 million from the UAE for munitions such as the GBU-10, announced in July; $1.2 billion from Australia for AIM-120D air-to-air missiles; and $1.15 billion from Saudi Arabia for M1A2S tanks and M88Al/A2 vehicles.
The drop from the 2015 total was predicted last month by DSCA head Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey, who argued that the total overall figure is not a barometer his agency uses to judge its success.
"We don’t look at sales like a benchmark we’re trying to capture. It’s not a number we’re trying to go for. Sales is really a fundamental result of foreign policy. We just have to understand what kind of workforce we’re going to need to prosecute those sales," Rixey said then. "It’s nothing more than a tool for us to anticipate what we’re going to anticipate and work with."
As an example, Rixey pointed out that if the long-awaited sale of fighter jets to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain had been cleared in 2016, as many had expected, the total would have eclipsed the record-setting year of 2015.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.