WASHINGTON ― U.S. defense companies sold $41.93 billion worth of weapons to foreign partners and allies in fiscal 2017, an almost 20 percent increase over 2016 figures.
Of that total, $32.02 billion came through Foreign Military Sales, $6.04 billion was through Foreign Military Financing and $3.87 billion in cases funded through other Defense Department authorities, according to a Wednesday announcement from the State Department.
Regionally, sales made through FMS and FMF totaled roughly $22 billion for Central Asia/Near East; $7.96 billion to the Indo-Pacific; $7.3 billion to Europe; $641.6 million to the Western Hemisphere; and $248.6 million to Africa.
This number represents actual sales agreed to with customers, as opposed to notifications to Congress by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which also set a record in FY17. Those notifications are not final and only apply to potential sales that must be cleared by Congress.
“This positive sales trend isn’t surprising as the United States is the global provider of choice for Security Cooperation,” Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, DSCA director, said in a statement. “We deliver not only the most effective defense systems to our partners, but we also ensure a ‘Total Package’ approach that includes the provision of training, maintenance, and sustainment, to support full spectrum capability for our partners.”
Sales totals tend to be volatile year over year, depending on what partner nations seek to buy. In FY16, sales totaled $33.6 billion, while FY15 totaled just more than $47 billion and FY14 totaled $34.2 billion.
The sales total for FY18 may well eclipse the previous year’s total, thanks to a number of major sales still to be signed, including some tied to U.S. President Donald Trump’s proclaimed $110 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia.
However, the Trump administration has sought to cut about $1 billion in foreign military financing, which could negatively impact future sales. Those dollars are supplied to foreign partners to bolster defense, but must be spent on U.S. products.
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.