Over the last fiscal year, authorised arms exports rose by a total of 13 per cent to USD 192.3 billion, adding thousands of jobs to the United States economy and sustaining many thousands more, the US State Department said.
These increases in both government-to-government and commercial sales of defense equipment by the US companies have coincided with efforts by the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and its interagency partners to comprehensively reform and modernise the arms transfer process.
"Central to these efforts is the President's new Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy, released in April this year, which aligned US policy on conventional arms transfers with our national and economic security interests. As an element of the CAT Policy, the President directed that the Secretary of State submit a CAT Policy Implementation Plan and make updates to the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Export Policy. Building on this guidance, the US Government, led by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, is undertaking comprehensive efforts to reform the arms transfer process and to work with allies and partners to ensure they have prompt access to US defense material," the State Department elucidated in a press statement.
After consultation with industry, Congress and non-governmental organisations, the CAT Policy Implementation Plan was submitted to the President in July 2018 and implementation is underway.
"The Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense are working closely with industry to improve US 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and processes, including through reforms of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that will remove outdated regulations and make them easier to use, while ensuring our arms transfers advance the objectives laid out in the President's National Security Strategy," it said.
The new UAS Export Policy was approved in April and it expands opportunities for the export of UAS systems, including via Direct Commercial Sales, while maintaining the requirement for partners to agree to certain principles of use for such systems.
The value of State Department-authorised government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases implemented by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency rose 33 per cent to USD 55.66 billion in the fiscal year 2018 from USD 41.93 billion in the fiscal year 2017. This includes new FMS cases and changes to previous cases, representing when a partner nation signs and makes the initial deposit on a Letter of Offer and Acceptance.
Major implemented cases in fiscal year 2018 include Littoral Combat Ships for Saudi Arabia (USD 6.5 billion), F/A-18 aircraft for Kuwait (USD 5.1 billion), Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems for Poland (USD 4.6 billion), Romania (USD 756 million), and Saudi Arabia (USD 1.6 billion), AH-64 Apache helicopters for the UAE (USD 1.9 billion), F-16 aircraft for Bahrain (USD 2.1 billion), A-29 aircraft for Nigeria (USD 500 million), and AH-64 Apache helicopter upgrades for the Netherlands (USD 1.07 billion).
The value of privately contracted Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) authorisations licensed by the State Department totalled USD 136.6 billion in the fiscal year 2018, a 6.6 per cent increase from USD 128.1 billion in the fiscal year 2017. The totals include the value of hardware, services, and technical data.
The current year numbers are not predictive of future year sales, which may increase or decrease due to several factors, including fluctuating foreign defense budgets, regional security issues, and ongoing changes to defense trade licensing jurisdiction with changes in technology, the State Department said.
"In the coming year, the administration will continue to align US conventional arms transfer policy with US national, economic security and foreign policy objectives and in support of the defense industrial manufacturing base," it added.
"In July, the Secretary of State submitted to the President the Implementation Plan requested as part of the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy (NSPM-10). This plan supports the US National Security Strategy through a whole-of-government approach to better align our conventional arms transfers with our national security and economic interests," the statement further said.
The plan accounts for the increasingly competitive environment described in the National Security Strategy and seeks to modernise the US government's policies and processes regarding arms transfers. It establishes three Lines of Effort (LOE) to implement its CAT Policy goals. Each LOE is supported by a number of tasks that would be undertaken by the relevant US Government agencies.
Line of Effort 1 (Prioritise Strategic and Economic Competition) -- This LOE directly addresses the challenges of increasing strategic competition, and enables the US government to prioritise allocation of its resources to overcome those challenges.
It reorients the United States to a more proactive approach to arms transfers, and ensures these transfers reflect the priorities articulated in the National Security Strategy (NSS), the National Defense Strategy (NDS), the recent report on Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States that was mandated by Executive Order 13806, and other relevant strategic guidance.
Line of Effort 2 (Organise for Success) -- This LOE ensures that the Executive Branch is organised, staffed, and resourced to best support efficient execution of the conventional arms transfer policy, and that its processes are similarly aligned.
Line of Effort 3 (Create Conducive Environments) -- The intent of this line of effort is to ensure that Congressional, business, and international climates foster efficient operation of US defense trade. (ANI)