Saudi Arabia’s military shopping spree

Thom Shanker reports on a new Congressional Research Service reports which finds that U.S. arms sales reached a record high of $66.3 billion last year, more than three quarters of the total global arms market. About half of that comes from sales to Saudi Arabia:  A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent ...

624951_saudi_13.jpg
624951_saudi_13.jpg

Thom Shanker reports on a new Congressional Research Service reports which finds that U.S. arms sales reached a record high of $66.3 billion last year, more than three quarters of the total global arms market. About half of that comes from sales to Saudi Arabia: 

A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels. These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems.[...]

The 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.

Thom Shanker reports on a new Congressional Research Service reports which finds that U.S. arms sales reached a record high of $66.3 billion last year, more than three quarters of the total global arms market. About half of that comes from sales to Saudi Arabia: 

A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels. These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems.[…]

The 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.

Sales to Saudi Arabia last year also included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, all contributing to a total Saudi weapons deal from the United States of $33.4 billion, according to the study.

As Robert Farley points out, this purchase is several times the size of Iran’s entire defense budget. Put it another way, that purchase alone would give Saudi Arabia the world’s 11th highest military spending. Given that the Kingdom’s total spending in 2011 was just $48.5 billion according to SIPRI, the purchase was a pretty significant upgrade. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.