The United States has continued its foreign military sales (FMS) momentum from last year into the first half of this fiscal year and is on pace to exceed its 2015 profits from selling combat aircraft in part to countries in the Middle East and Asia, according to Defense News. Last year, the U.S. pocketed $43 billion in foreign military sales.
“Through the end of April, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency had announced about $29 billion in FMS cases, and there are a number of pending U.S. fighter aircraft orders that could bump that number up significantly if they are approved by the White House,” a report conducted by the Guggenheim Securities group concluded.
The group took various factors into account — such as the expectation that existing deals would go through before the end of U.S. President Barackbama’s final term in office — when calculating its findings published in the report.
Just last month, Lockheed Martin’s senior vice president for Washington operations, Robert Rangel, said Congress isn’t “making it a priority and expending the necessary energy and capital to push it through.” However, that tide seems to have changed in just a short amount of time.
In particular, sales of U.S.-made combat aircraft have been thriving, a trend that began last year, as well. Israel could shell out as much as $50 billion for various aerial vehicles. Thus far, the Middle East as a whole has dedicated more than $17 billion in buying power to U.S.-made military wares. That is likely due at least in part to the ongoing conflicts throughout the region, especially the U.S.-led international coalition to fight the Islamic State militant group.
Historically, U.S. government-to-foreign-government military sales have averaged $30 billion annually, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which describes itself as the “lead agency for the execution of Security Cooperation programs.”
The surge in foreign military sales belies what many in the international community have said about the U.S. coming up short in that department, according to Aude Fleurant, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms and military expenditure program.
“I think there’s been an exaggeration of the erosion of the U.S. domination of the arms trade,” Fleurant said last year, according to a report from Flight Global. “Not only do I think it is overstated, the U.S. is by far the largest exporter and the country that receives the most of its exports [accounts for] only 10 percent.”
The hefty foreign military sales have allowed U.S. defense companies to benefit the most, at least financially. In particular, U.S. defense manufacturers Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon cashed in big-time last year, Fortune reported. In April 2015 alone, Boeing made $1.5 billion from a single sale to Australia. In that same time period, Poland bought a Raytheon-made air defense system for $5 billion.