U.S. arms exports down by $1 billion in 2008 -- report

July 31, 2009 at 11:18 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) -- U.S. arms exports dropped by about $1 billion during fiscal year 2008, the Annual Military Assistance Report showed.

Key sections of the report, compiled by the Defense and State departments, were obtained by the Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act, FAS said.

The report showed that arms deliveries through the Defense Department's Foreign Military Sales Program during fiscal year 2008 totaled $10,996,180,000, nearly $1 billion less than the $11,910,160,000 delivered in fiscal year 2007. The U.S. fiscal year starts Oct. 1 in the preceding year.

The Federation of American Scientists said the drop in arms sales was surprising in view of a "significant increase" in foreign military sales agreements -- from $9.5 billion in fiscal year 2005 to more than $18 billion in fiscal 2006. The value of foreign military sales agreements doubled to $36 billion in fiscal year 2008, the FAS said.

"One possible explanation for the apparent lag is that deliveries, and particularly deliveries of big-ticket items, can take years," FAS said. "If this is the case, FMS delivery totals are likely to rise sharply over the next few years."

The top five importers of defense articles and services through the foreign military sales program in fiscal 2008 were -- from the largest to smallest in dollar value terms -- Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Egypt and Poland, which topped the list in 2007.

Poland's recent rise on the arms importers' list is due in large part to its purchase of 48 F-16 fighter aircraft in 2002. Deliveries of the aircraft accounted for at least 78 percent of the value of sales to Poland in fiscal year 2007 and 82 percent of the figure in fiscal year 2008.

Data compiled by the Federation of American Scientists for the Top 10 buyers showed that while Poland topped the list in 2007, with purchases of $1,489,346, it was Israel's turn in 2008 with arms buying of $1,359,425.

Saudi Arabia was the second importer with purchases of $808,770, followed by South Korea, $798,523; Egypt, $788,345; Poland, $732,833; Canada, $470,142; Iraq, $342,196; Turkey, $336,925; Jordan, $306,930; and Pakistan, $270,789.

Deliveries of U.S. arms to Iraq through the foreign military sales program began two years after the coalition's intervention in 2003 and have increased exponentially since then.

"If recent arms sales notifications to Congress are at all indicative of future growth trends, Iraq is likely to continue to rank among the largest recipients of U.S. arms for the foreseeable future," the Federation of American Scientists said.

In December 2008 the Defense Department notified Congress of more than $6 billion in potential arms sales to Iraq.

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