The US sold US$55.4 billion worth of weapons to allies and partners around the globe in fiscal 2019, a nearly flat change from the previous fiscal year, Defense News reported.
Of that total, US$48.25 billion came in payments from partner nations, US$3.67 billion from grant assistance programs such as Foreign Military Financing and the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative, and $3.47 billion for cases funded under Department of Defense Title 10 grant assistance programs, such as train and equip programs or the Afghan Security Forces Fund.
In FY17, the US sold US$41.93 billion in Foreign Military Sales, or FMS, deals. That number jumped a dramatic 33% in FY18 to US$55.6 billion in deals, the report said.
While another major jump did not happen in FY19, Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, expressed confidence that the various efforts to reform his agency would continue to pay off.
“We, the United States, will continue to embody what makes us great; transparency in our business practices, responsiveness to our partners needs, integrity in all that we do and commitment to not only advance our national security objectives but those of our partners as well,” Hooper said at the Association of the US Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
Casting arms transfers as a key tool for the era of great power competition, Hooper said: “We’re gonna win this thing, folks. Working together — industry, private sector, the implementing agencies, DoD, State [Department] — all of us. We’re gonna win this thing.”
Sales totals can look volatile year over year, as large procurements like fighter jets can have an outsized impact on the top line. In FY16, sales totaled US$33.6 billion; FY15 totaled just more than US$47 billion; and FY14 totaled US$34.2 billion, the report said.
But three years of strong numbers represent a trend, benefiting both from reforms to the FMS process begun during the Obama administration and a prioritization on arms sales by the Trump administration, which views them as an economic driver.
“Security cooperation has been elevated to a tool of first resort for U.S. foreign policy,” Hooper said.
The State Department OK’d US$67.9 billion in weapon requests in FY19, covering 64 individual procurement requests from 28 different countries and a NATO consortium. Those FMS cases will be reflected in the coming years and serve as a sign that American arm sales totals will likely remain strong going forward.