The White House oversaw over $192 billion in arms transfers last fiscal year – over 13 percent more than in fiscal year 2017– and is pushing to sell even more weapons and military equipment to global allies and partners to counter growing competition overseas.
President Trump’s administration is implementing key lines of effort in its new conventional arms transfer (CAT) policy to prioritize strategic competition and ensure that its agencies are properly resourced to sell weapons and other assets to partners around the world, the State Department said in a release Thursday.
“The Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense are working closely with industry to improve U.S. policies and processes, including through reforms of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that will remove outdated regulations and make them easier to use, while ensuring our arms transfers advance the objectives laid out in the President’s National Security Strategy,” the release said.
Among the many efforts in progress, the Trump administration is working to:
- Identify critical partner capability requirements and then prioritize and expedite critical transfers that reflect these partner capability requirements;
- Identify and revise outdated arms transfer policies that are legacies of past international security challenges;
- Develop holistic policies in support of arms transfers by creating proactive, strategic policy guidance to prevent ad hoc decisions on individual transfers;
- Revise the United States Munitions List (USML);
- Increase the competitiveness of high-demand American weapons systems, and build exportability, interoperability and standardization into DoD capability requirements development and approval process;
- Reduce costs associated with FMS such as surcharges and fees;
- Establish an Offset Task Force to develop recommendations to minimize “the adverse impact of offsets in defense trade while not hindering the flexibility of U.S. industry as it competes in the global defense market;”
- Modernize the Missile Technology Control Regime to reflect advances in technology while continuing to constrain the proliferation of systems that can deliver weapons of mass destruction;
- Work with U.S. industry to incentivize increased production capacity and timely delivery.
The full list of of efforts is available via the State Department’s website.
The U.S. government sold over $192 billion worth of weapons to global allies and partners in fiscal year 2018, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to the department. That includes over $55 million in foreign military sales (FMS) cases, up from nearly $42 billion in FY ’17.
Those recent sales include $6.5 billion for Littoral Combat Ships to Saudi Arabia. Members of Congress are expected to weigh the future prospect of U.S. arms sales and military to the Gulf nation when new lawmakers arrive in January (Defense Daily, Oct. 24)
Other deals include over $5 billion with Kuwait for F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets built by Boeing [BA], the sale of Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] Patriot air and missile defense system to Poland for $4.6 billion, to Romania for $756 and Saudi Arabia for $1.6 billion.
The Trump administration released the new CAT policy in April, along with a new unmanned aerial systems export policy to expand opportunities to sell UAS platforms overseas, including via direct commercial sales.
Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, lauded the two new policies – which he helped develop – in a speech Friday at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The CAT policy and UAS policy … basically liberalized our ability to sell weapon systems to our partners and allies,” he said. Increasing arms sales will help U.S. partners abroad become stronger and more stable, and means “fewer American boots on the ground,” he noted.
Stumping for the Trump administration’s “economic security is national security” mantra, Navarro pointed to a $2.1 billion sale of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter aircraft to Bahrain as an opportunity to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
“It helped expand the production line in Ft. Worth, Texas. It led to a new facility in Greenville, South Carolina,” he said. “It reactivated … the supply chain. When you reactivate that supply chain, you mobilize 400 suppliers in 41 states.”