U.S. Export Smashes Records with 55% Jump in 12 Months

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By Jason Simpkins

Sales of American weapons, ammunition, and equipment to foreign countries climbed 55% last year to a record-high $81 billion. 

Naturally, one of the biggest catalysts for the surge in U.S. arms exports is Ukraine.

The United States currently has $596 million in active government-to-government sales cases with Ukraine under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Additionally, Russia’s invasion of the country has spurred demand for U.S. weaponry across Europe in general and Eastern Europe in particular.

Poland, for example, struck a series of deals amounting to more than $45 billion last year.

It spent $12 billion on 96 AH-64E Apache helicopters and $10 billion on High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which have demonstrated tremendous capability on the Ukrainian front. 

The country even added to that total on Wednesday, when the U.S. State Department greenlit the sale of Airspace and Surface Radar Reconnaissance (ASRR) systems for $1.2 billion.

Indeed, this record-spending trend has already carried into FY24.

Deals reached in just the past few months also include a $23 billion order for F-16s to Turkey and an $8.6 billion order for F-35s from Greece.

Furthermore, while Europe is racing to address Russia’s belligerence, the Middle East has been convulsed by its own bout of chaotic violence.

That, too, will accelerate military sales in FY24.

December saw the State Department clear Israel to purchase $148 million worth of 155 mm artillery shells and $107 million of 120 mm M830A1 anti-tank cartridges.

Finally, it should be noted that while all of these sales and contracts were executed through the government’s FMS program, additional deals worth billions of dollars were carried out directly between defense contractors and overseas buyers.

That is, the Biden administration authorized $158 billion in direct commercial sales to foreign governments last year — a 2.5% increase over the FY22 total of $154 billion.

Deals in that realm included:

  • A $2.8 billion deal to deliver F-35 wing assemblies and sub-assemblies for Italy.
  • A $1.8 billion deal that sent engine hardware to India.
  • And a $1.2 billion deal with South Korea to acquire Pratt & Whitney’s F100 propulsion system and spare parts.

All told, the defense segment is one of America’s greatest strengths, as the U.S. accounts for 45% of global arms sales. That’s magnitudes more than any other country and up from 30% a decade ago.

That bodes well for us considering more than $2.2 trillion was spent on defense last year — a figure that is destined to rise even further in 2024 and beyond.

Our own FY24 defense budget is set at a staggering $886 billion and will almost certainly hit $1 trillion in two or three years.

That’s why investors would be smart to take advantage — just as I have by investing in defense contractors and technology suppliers in my investment service.

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