US weaponry exports hit record high in 2023, boosted by Ukraine war
Stars and Stripes January 30, 2024
The United States sold $238 billion worth of weapons to foreign governments in 2023, as many European countries sought to replace stock sent to Ukraine for its defense against invading Russian forces.
That sum is a 16% increase from the year before and includes sales by U.S. arms companies and those directly negotiated by Washington, a statement Monday from the State Department said.
The government transfers were worth roughly $81 billion, a 56% increase from the previous year, according to State Department data.
“This is the highest annual total of sales and assistance provided to our allies and partners,” the statement said in reference to the government transfers.
Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine and is aiming to build the strongest land army in Europe by 2026, made some of the largest government-to-government purchases.
These included $12 billion for Apache attack helicopters, $10 billion for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, $4 billion for an Integrated Air and Missile Defense System and $3.75 billion for M1A1 Abrams battle tanks.
Other European countries concerned about Russia’s aggression on the Continent also were among the biggest spenders.
Germany paid $8.5 billion for Chinook helicopters and nearly $3 billion for advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, according to the State Department.
After years of criticism for not meeting NATO’s target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense, Germany pledged to make its military the “backbone” of European defense in the wake of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, a German court ruling that has restricted deficit spending is likely to roll back some of Berlin’s military procurement plans.
The Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Norway also each bought American weaponry worth $1 billion or more from the government, the State Department said.
Italy spent the most on a single direct commercial sale, which aren’t managed by the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program but still require congressional approval. They spent $2.8 billion on F-35 fighter jet wing assemblies and subassemblies, according to the State Department data.
Some Asian countries also featured prominently in commercial U.S. arms transactions in 2023. India, Singapore, South Korea and Saudi Arabia spent at least $1 billion in direct sales from American companies, the data showed.
The State Department’s figures were for fiscal year 2023, which ended in October.