Washington: Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, a new study for Congress has revealed.
The surge in weapons sales is driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions, the report prepared by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, revealed.
According to the New York Times, overseas weapons sales by the United States totalled USD 66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at USD 85.3 billion in 2011. Russia came second in the arms sales, earning USD 4.8 billion in deals.
The study found that American weapons sales total was an ‘extraordinary increase’ over the USD 21.4 billion in deals for 2010, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports, the report said.
The increasing tensions with Iran led a set of Persian Gulf nations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, to purchase American weapons at record levels.
Their arms purchases focused on buying expensive warplanes and complex missile defence systems. The annual study, written by Richard F Grimmett and Paul K Kerr and delivered to Congress, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public. The report said that agreements with Saudi Arabia included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters, a variety of ammunition, missiles and logistics support, and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighters in the current fleet.
Other significant weapons deals by the United States last year included a USD 4.1 billion agreement with India for 10 C-17 transport planes and with Taiwan for Patriot antimissile batteries valued at USD 2 billion, the report said.