WASHINGTON / NEW YORK, Aug 28: The US weapons sales to the world tripled in 2011 to a record high, driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies.
Russia was a distant second, a report on the study by The New York Times said.
The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports.
Previously, the highest level was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion. Due to a worldwide economic decline arms sales had declined over recent years.
But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels. The Times reported that the American Persian Gulf allies, buying weapons, are concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions.
These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems, the Times noted in a report on the study.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service study by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public.
American agreements with Saudi Arabia included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters, a variety of ammunition, missiles and logistics support, and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighters in the current fleet.
Last year’s sales to Saudi Arabia also included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, all contributing to a total Saudi weapons deal from the United States of $33.4 billion, according to the study. The United Arab Emirates purchased a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced antimissile shield that includes radars and is valued at $3.49 billion, as well as 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million. Another regional country Oman bought 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion.
Consistent with recent trends, most of the weapons purchases, worth about $71.5 billion, were made by developing nations, with about $56.3 billion of that from the United States. Among other significant weapons deals by the United States last year were a $4.1 billion agreement with India for 10 C-17 transport planes and with Taiwan for Patriot antimissile batteries valued at $2 billion — an arms deal that outraged officials in Beijing.
The Times news report said a policy goal of the United States has been to work with Arab allies in the Persian Gulf to knit together a regional missile defense system to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack.
The effort has included deploying radars to increase the range of early warning coverage across the Persian Gulf, as well as introducing command, control and communications systems that could exchange that information with new batteries of missile interceptors sold to the individual nations
.The missile shield in the Persian Gulf is being built on a country-by-country basis — with these costly arms sales negotiated bilaterally between the United States and individual nations, the Times reported.
- U.S. and Gulf Allies Pursue a Missile Shield Against Iranian Attack (nytimes.com)
- US weapons sales triple to hit record high, thanks to worried Gulf allies (smh.com.au)