US arms sales way up as partners respond to Russia’s war and Chinese modernization
Stars and Stripes January 26, 2023
U.S. foreign arms sales skyrocketed in 2022, increasing by nearly 50% from the previous year as allies and partners muscled up amid concerns over Russia and China, U.S. officials said this week.
The boost added up to $52 billion in sales during the last fiscal year, according to U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency data released Wednesday.
James Hursch, the agency’s director, said the Russian war on Ukraine and China’s military advances were likely causes for the spike.
In Europe and the Pacific, there is an “understanding among our partners and allies that we’re back in an age of great power competition,” Hursch said in a statement.
In a separate category, privately contracted direct commercial sales also were up by 49% in 2022, totaling $153.7 billion for the year, according to State Department figures.
The growth in that category, which also takes into account equipment transfers, was unsurprising.
“The increase … was primarily due to authorizations adjudicated in support of Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself from Russia’s unprovoked aggression,” the State Department said.
Capabilities that have been put to effective use on the battlefield in Ukraine have been of particular interest to U.S. partners who have been on buying sprees.
High Mobility Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, along with Javelins and Stingers are some of the weapons that have been in demand, according to sales data.
Last year’s increase also can be attributed to partners opting to buy more expensive gear, Hursch said.
“As we continue to improve our equipment, it tends to get more costly. Buying a HIMARS system, for example, is more expensive than buying a Howitzer,” Hursch said. “And that’s the sort of upgrade that several of our allies and partners are looking to do.”
Other big-ticket foreign military sales items sought by allies and partners included tanks, helicopters, Patriot missiles and other advanced air defenses. Poland was one of the big buyers last year.
On Thursday, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in a radio interview that the first batch of 58 recently acquired Abrams tanks was expected to arrive in the spring.