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U.S. Arms Sales Go Up In Fiscal Year 2020 Despite COVID-19












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U.S. Arms Sales Go Up In Fiscal Year 2020 Despite COVID-19

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On December 4th, US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Director Heidi Grant, alongside R. Clarke Cooper, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs announced the Fiscal Year 2020 U.S. arms transfer figures.


In addition to funds for arms transfers, the two also listed some Defense and State Department accomplishments and statistics. This had the aim to highlight “the depth and breadth of U.S. security cooperation and security assistance efforts.”


“Arms sales and defense trade are tangible implements of U.S. foreign policy with potential long-term implications for regional security” the DSCA statement on the matter read.


Over the last fiscal year, authorized arms exports (including both government-managed and commercial) rose by a total of 2.8% from $170.09 billion to $175.08 billion.


The U.S. arms transfers figures are as follows:



  • Foreign Military Sales (FMS) totaled $50.78 billion, raising the three-year rolling average to $54 billion. This comprised approximately:


The three-year rolling average of State Department-authorized government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases implemented1 by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency rose to $54 billion in FY 20 from $51 billion in FY 19.  Major implemented cases in FY 20 include:



  • Japan – F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft ($23.11B);

  • Japan – F-15J Modernization ($4.5B);

  • Morocco – AH-64E helicopters ($4.25B);

  • Israel – Aviation, Diesel, and Unleaded Gasoline ($3.0B);

  • Singapore – F-35B Short Take-Off And Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft ($2.75B);

  • Israel – KC-46A Aerial Refueling aircraft ($2.4B);

  • Egypt – Refurbished AH-64E Apache Attack helicopters ($2.3B);

  • France – E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft ($2.0B);

  • Indonesia – MV-22 Osprey aircraft ($2.0B).


Under separate programs they fall in the following categories:



  • $44.79 billion in arms sales under the FMS program funded by Allies and partners nations;

  • $3.30 billion under the Title 22 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program; and

  • $2.69 billion under Title 10 Foreign Assistance Act or Building Partner Capacity (BPC) programs.


Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) totaled $124.3 billion.


This sum rose from $114.7 billion in FY 19, representing an 8.4% increase.  The total value covers authorizations of hardware, defense services, and technical data.  At the end of FY 20, 13,753 entities were registered with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to conduct defense trade activities.


The top 5 major Congressional Notifications (CNs) in FY 20 include:



  • Australia – Spare Parts for the P-8 Aircraft ($3.25 billion);

  • Italy – Manufacture of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Wing Assembly for the Italian Ministry of Defense and United States ($1.12 billion);

  • Australia and UK – E-7 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft for the UK Ministry of Defense ($2.48 billion);

  • Australia, Austria, Finland Germany, Norway, Qatar, UK,– Qatar National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) for the Qatari Ministry of Defense ($1.80 billion);

  • Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, and UK – Manufacture of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aft fuselage, empennage, and airframe components for Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan and the United States ($8.39 billion).


Highlighting that Security Cooperation is much more than just arms transfers, Director Grant also highlighted a number of other FY20 Institutional Capacity Building accomplishments:



  • The United States trained over 31,000 foreign military students in Department of Defense schoolhouses.

  • DSCA’s component the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies conducted 11 CONUS events with 184 participants and 84 OCONUS events with 749 participants.

  • DSCA component the Institute for Security Governance conducted 214 advising activities as part of ongoing multi-year programs with 38 priority Allies and partner-nations and 17 education events with 401 international students from 70 countries.

  • DSCA’s Ministry of Defense Advisors Program deployed 55 advisors to 13 Ally and partner nations.


Finally, 2020’s numbers are not predictive of future year sales, which may increase or decrease due to several factors, including COVID-19 impacts, fluctuating foreign defense budgets, and regional security issues.


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