The U.S. continues to dominate the global arms trade, with agreements totaling about $36 billion last year -- more than half of the worldwide market, according to a new congressional report.
In the Dec. 21 document, researchers at the Congressional Research Service, which provides nonpartisan policy analysis for members of Congress, concluded the U.S. ranked first in the overall sales last year, followed by Russia.
"In worldwide arms transfer agreements in 2014 -- to both developed and developing nations -- United States dominated, ranking first with $36.2 billion in such agreements or 50.4% of all such agreements," it states. "Russia ranked second in worldwide arms transfer agreements in 2014 with $10.2 billion in such global agreements or 14.2%. The value of all arms transfer agreements worldwide in 2014 was $71.8 billion."
The U.S. arms transactions included a $9.6 billion sale to Qatar for Patriot PAC-3 missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp., Javelin missiles made by Lockheed and Raytheon Co. and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters made by Boeing Co.; a $7 billion-plus order from South Korea for CH-47D cargo helicopters, RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone made by Northrop Grumman Corp. and other equipment; a $4 billion deal to supply Saudi Arabia with TOW missiles made by Raytheon and other weapons; and a $1.8 billion agreement with Iraq, according to the report.
Like all reports published by the organization, the document was written for lawmakers and wasn't publicly released. But it was obtained and subsequently shared by watchdogs, including Steven Aftergood, director of the government secrecy project at the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that publishes scientific analysis to protect against national-security threats.
The figure for overall sales represented a slight increase -- about $1.7 billion, or 2 percent -- from the previous year, the report states. The market is flat in part because of the financial crisis in Europe and slow international recovery from the 2008 global recession, it states. The factors have "generally limited defense purchases of prospective customers," it states.
The vast majority of the weapon transfer agreements -- about $62 billion, or 86 percent -- went to developing countries, including South Korea, Iraq, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to the document. The report focuses on developing countries because of the market activity in these regions and because "the potential for the outbreak of regional military conflicts currently is greatest," it states.
The Cold War-era practice of countries arming allies with advanced weaponry to level the military playing field appears alive and well, with Russia, in particular, and China supplying developing countries with thousands of surface-to-air missiles and other systems, according to the report. For example, China has supplied battlefield and cruise missiles to Iran and surface-to-surface missiles to Pakistan, it states.
And Russia has supplied more than 9,400 SAMs to developing countries in the four-year period through 2014 -- up from about 7,300 in the four-year period ending 2010, according to the report.
Read the full report at the FAS website.