While arms exports as a whole declined over the last five years, the United States’ share of the arms trade increased, even though it was already the world’s top weapons dealer. Meanwhile, China’s and Russia’s weapons exports have declined, driven in part by US programs such as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
According to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), purchases of US military equipment by US allies in East and South Asia rose tremendously over the last five years, driven by a growing perception that China is a threat.
Japan’s arms imports increased by 124% in that five-year period as compared to the previous five-year period, topping out at 2,951 arms transfers, but driven especially by a huge $23 billion purchase of 105 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters last year. In January, the Pentagon further noted it has more than $20 billion in active weapons sales with Japan under the Foreign Military Sales program. Not all active sales would appear in SIPRI’s report, since many contracts take years to complete.
Australia bought some 4,880 weapons transfers from the US in that period, more than two-thirds of all its weapons procurements. According to the US State Department, roughly 60% of Canberra’s 10-year, $145 billion modernization and acquisition budget is sourced from the US, and the US has $25 billion in active sales cases with Australia via the FMS program.