US arms sales to foreign militaries increased 33 percent over last year and look to possibly hit a new record high next year.
The Pentagon enthusiastically reported that the U.S. took in $55.6 billion in foreign military sales (FMS) during the 2018 fiscal year (FY), topping sales from 2017 by 33 percent. The announcement came at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual conference (AUSA), held every October.
“This is a 33 percent increase over last year and I’m very optimistic that this positive trajectory will continue,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, during the AUSA conference. “Our partners know a good thing when they see one.”
In 2017, the U.S. sold $41.93 in FMS deals and early estimates for the current fiscal year predict further increases over the $55.6 billion sold in the 2018 fiscal year. According to Defense News, a report in July said the U.S. had already inked $46.9 billion in FMS deals, and a report released by the Pentagon in late 2017 said the U.S. had inked $54.45 billion through the end of August.
According to reports, in FY16 sales totaled $33.6 billion, while FY15 totaled $47 billion and FY14 totaled $34.2 billion. The all-time high though was in 2012 when FMS sales hit $67.8 billion.
In FY 2018 the State Department approved an initial $70 billion in FMS sales which could mean a massive boost in FMS sales for FY19, but the sales must still be approved by Congress and then will also be subjected to negotiation. The $70 billion in sales is spread out over 70 individual requests including a Saudi request for the anti-missile defense program THAAD ($15 billion) and a Polish request for Patriot-PAC 3 batteries ($10.5 billion).
Arms sales are likely to increase under the Trump administration, which has pushed arms deals as part of his economic growth plans and Hooper is not the only one excited about the surge in arms sales.
Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, shared Hooper’s optimism for arms sales when speaking to reporters in September.
“I would anticipate — I am an optimist and a realist — that next year’s numbers will be higher than this year’s numbers,” Thompson said.