WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. foreign military sales deals hit a record $69.1 billion in fiscal 2012 with Saudi Arabia's order of F-15s accounting for a major portion of it.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency -- the central agency coordinating global security cooperation programs, funding and efforts across the defense secretary's office, the Joint Staff, the State Department, the combatant commands, the military services and U.S. industry -- said it expects fiscal 2013 to produce about $25 billion in foreign military sales deals and about $30 billion a year in following years.
Before fiscal 2006, DSCA foreign military sales were $10 billion to $13 billion a year, said Derek Gilman, DSCA's general counsel. The increase, he said, is due to interoperability between military forces and equipment and coalition operations.
Gilman made the comments recently during a presentation to the U.S. National Defense Industrial Association, at which he explained the aim and scope his agency.
The FMS program, he said, is not in the business of selling equipment per se, but rather promoting military-to-military relationships with international partners by facilitating purchase of equipment and services, training and more.
"The idea is if partners have U.S. equipment and U.S. training and are following U.S. doctrine, our interoperability is greater with them," Gilman said. "That can lead, if you're sharing joint doctrine, to joint exercises and other types of military-to-military cooperation and ... to decades-long relationships -- core relationships -- with partners around the world."
The foreign military sales program is authorized by the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. It is a form of security assistance, through which the U.S. and other governments enter into a sales agreement.
The U.S. State Department determines which countries will have FMS programs.
Currently, the agency has 12,881 active foreign military sales cases valued at $394 billion. It has 443 humanitarian projects worldwide, 768 security cooperation officers in 148 countries, 7,344 international students from 141 countries, and 7,090 participants in five regional centers around the world.
DSCA said it provides a total-package approach.
"DSCA will work with partners to say, 'This is the equipment you want to meet a certain need, these are the weapons you'll need to go with that equipment, this is the training you will need [and] these are the requirements you will need on your base,'" Gilman said. "And we can provide all that through letters of offer and acceptance as to an estimate of how much it will cost."
Britain, France and Russia remain as competitors in the supply of weapons, equipment and services, Gilman noted, but others are emerging -- including China, India, Brazil and the European Union.
"China is becoming more and more of a player in the international armaments sales arena, and South Korea is becoming a significant competitor in the international armaments sales arena," he said. "The United States wants to maintain its role as the pre-eminent competitor for the reasons of building relationships with our partners."