2011 Record Year for US Arms Sales

The United States “dominated” the world in conventional arms sales in 2011, totaling $66.3 billion in arms transfer agreements to developing and developed nations, according to the Congressional Research Service. “This is the highest single-year agreements total in the history of the US arms export program,” states a new CRS report discussing these transactions. US sales accounted for 77.7 percent of the world’s total arms sales in 2011, which amounted to $85.3 billion, a substantial increase over the $44.5 billion in 2010, according to the report, which is dated Aug. 24. However, authors Richard Grimmett and Paul Kerr note that much of that spike was due to the atypical sale of $33.7 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including 84 new-build F-15SA fighters. “The international arms market is not likely growing overall,” they wrote. Instead, “the weakened state of the global economy” has “generally limited defense purchases.” (CRS report; caution; large-sized file.)