U.S. Weapons Exports Decreased 21% to $138.2 Billion in Fiscal 2021

Sales of U.S. military equipment to foreign governments fell 21% to $138 billion in the latest fiscal year, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday, as the Biden administration shifts away from some of the more aggressive arms sales practices under former President Donald Trump.

The U.S. State Department disclosed military sales figures for the 2021 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30. Sales included $3.5 billion worth of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to Australia and $3.4 billion worth of CH-53K helicopters to Israel.

Sales of U.S. military equipment in the prior fiscal year had totaled $175 billion.

President Joe Biden’s administration shifted away from selling offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, due to civilian casualties in Yemen and intends to announce a new weapons export policy that emphasizes human rights when evaluating an arms sale.

The 2021 drop follows exceptionally high sales of fighter jets and guided missiles the final year of the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Major financial deals for 2020 included Japan’s purchase of 63 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, amounting to $23 billion of that year’s total.

There are two main ways in which foreign governments can purchase arms from US companies, the first are direct commercial sales negotiated between the government and the company, and the second are foreign military sales, where the foreign government usually contacts a Defense Department official at the US embassy in its capital.

Both methods require US government approval.

The US State Department said that direct military sales from American companies decreased by 17% to 103 billion dollars in fiscal year 2021 from 124 billion in fiscal year 2020, while sales that are arranged through the government decreased 31% to 34.8 billion in 2021 from 50.8 billion the previous year.

The Trump administration has launched a “Buy American” program that eased restrictions on military sales, while encouraging US officials to take a greater role in increasing the activity of the arms industry abroad.