The U.S. Army had a record year for foreign military sales, with rising demand in the Middle East and elsewhere for such weapons systems as Apache attack helicopters, as well as Patriot and Javelin missiles, a top general said.
The United States Army Security Assistance Command in fiscal 2014, which ended Sept. 30, had a "significant increase" to 719 cases, or instances, of such sales worth a total of $21 billion, according to Gen. Dennis Via, the head of Army Materiel Command.
"That's a record for us," he said during a morning panel discussion on Tuesday at the annual conference in Washington, D.C., organized by the Association of the United States Army, an advocacy group based in Arlington, Virginia. "We see that continuing to increase in the coming years. The demand will be there."
In such a sale, the U.S. buys weapons or equipment on behalf of a foreign government.
Countries approved to participate in the program may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs, according to the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Via singled out as popular weapons systems the AH-64 Apache gunship made by Boeing Co., the MIM-104 Patriot truck-mounted missile-defense system made by Raytheon Co., and the FGM-148 Javelin shoulder-launched missile system made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp.
"Our allies want U.S.-made equipment," he said. "They trust that equipment. They trust when we establish an FMS agreement with them that they're going to see a quality product, they're going to see the sustainment and training behind that product."
The deals also support the Army's strategic goal of partnering with allies to deal with complex contingencies, Via said.
"It increases compatibility and we can train with those forces," he said. "So I see that continuing to increase, not just in the Middle East. We're seeing that growth throughout the rest of the world. We're seeing an increase in the Pacific, an increase in South America, an increase with some of our allies in Europe."
Separately, the Army is upgrading its Apaches with new avionics, radar and sensor technology, among other enhancements, to perform better in maritime environments as part of an effort to keep the platform operational for decades to come.