On October 15, 2019, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that foreign arm sales for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 totaled $55.4 billion.
This amount nearly matches the total from FY 2018 of $55.7 billion, continuing the significant increase in foreign arm sales under the Trump Administration and potentially signaling that the enormous 33 percent jump in sales from FY 2017 to FY 2018 may have established a new normal for U.S. arms exports.
Every October, DSCA announces the total sales arms sales of the U.S. These totals include government-to-government sales under the Foreign Military Sales program as well as sales funded through the Foreign Military Financing program and other security cooperation and assistance agreements with partner nations. These totals do not include direct sales from U.S. companies to foreign militaries that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.
The total foreign arms sales for the past six years are:
The large spike in sales in FY 2015 was attributed in large part to ramping up efforts to combat ISIS. That isolated spike aside, the increase in arm sales in the past four years has been dramatic, with the increase in sales attributable primarily to increased foreign government spending (as opposed to U.S. assistance funding).
DSCA prefers to rely on three-year rolling averages, as annual sales figures can be skewed by specific geo-political events (such as the fight against ISIS in FY 2015) or a few high-value transactions (such as the sale of F-15s to Qatar and F/A-18s to Kuwait during FY 2012). With two consecutive years of sales around $55 billion, we may now be seeing a new normal for foreign arms sales. Of course, many factors could impact foreign arms sales moving forward, including fluctuations in energy prices and increased scrutiny by Congress, but it appears for now that robust U.S. arms exports will continue.