The U.S. State Department approved almost $70 billion in foreign weapon orders in fiscal year 2018, as the Trump administration ramped up its focus to increase defense export sales to other countries.
The $69.7 billion in potential sales, spread over 70 individual notifications, fell short of 2017 record figure, during which the Defense Security Cooperation Agency reported $75.9 billion to Congress. North America is unlikely to be concerned by the slight decrease, as the number shows America’s supremacy on the defense export market remains solid.
These numbers represent potential arms sales that the State Department has cleared for processing, and does not represent actual weapon sales. State approves the sale, then notified by the DSCA to Congress. If Congress does not reject the weapon sale, it will then go into negotiations. During this phase, dollar figures and quantities of weapons could change.
However, while not guaranteed dollars, reports are a prominent way of tracking interest in procuring American arms from foreign partners, and can be a leading indicator of final future sales.
Geographically, Europe came out on top with 31 reports for a potential $37.34 billion. The Gulf and Middle East region came in second with $22.12 billion over 23 reports, followed by the Asia-Pacific region with $8.85 billion on 12 reports. Mexico ($1.39 billion on three listings) and Canada (one listing for $140 million) round out the list.
As always with FMS notifications, a few specific projects drive the total way up. A Saudi request for THAAD ($15 billion) and a Polish request for Patriot PAC-3 batteries ($10.5 billion) accounted for over a third of the total dollar value on their own. Belgium’s request for F-35s ($6.53 billion), Sweden’s request for Patriot systems ($3.2 billion) and Japans’ request for E-2D Hawkeyes ($3.2 billion) round out the top five largest requests.
Overall, 15 notifications came with an estimated price tag of over $1 billion.
In terms of total foreign military sales for the fiscal year, the Pentagon this week revealed in a report that through the end of August, the U.S. had inked $54.45 billion in foreign weapon deals, easily eclipsing the $41.93 billion total from FY17.
Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the DSCA head, is scheduled to speak at next week’s AUSA conference, where he may reveal the final FY18 total.