DOD Has Seen 'Huge' Increase in Military Sales Since Ukraine Invasion

  • Published
  • By C. Todd Lopez
  • DOD News

Last year, the Defense Department set a record for sales of military equipment and hardware, especially among European partners and allies, said the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

"We've had a huge increase in demand from our European allies and partners over the last few years since the ... invasion by the Russians in Ukraine," James Hursch said yesterday during the 2024 Sea-Air-Space maritime exposition just outside of Washington.

European nations — including Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands, to name a few — have become "huge customers" for U.S. military hardware, he said.

In fiscal year 2023, the U.S. did more than $80 billion in business through the foreign military sales system, including grant assistance. "That is a record," Hursch said.

The total authorized value of implemented arms transfers and Security Cooperation programs for FY2023 was $80.9 billion. This included $62.25 billion in arms sales funded by U.S. allies and partner nations and $3.97 billion under the Title 22 Foreign Military Financing program.   

An additional $14.68 billion was used for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and for Building Partner Capacity programs conducted by the Defense Department and also for programs under the Foreign Assistance Act.  

The Foreign Assistance Act has funded programs such as international narcotics control and law enforcement, nonproliferation, anti-terrorism, demining, and related programs.  

In both fiscal 2022 and fiscal 2023, Hursch said a substantial portion of sales came from NATO allies, including $20 billion in fiscal 2022 and $24 billion in fiscal 2023.

"This is a huge increase," he said. "That's representative of the increased investment that our allies in Europe are making every day, which is a story that may not be as widely reported as it needs to be." 

Poland, Hursch said, has been particularly involved in increasing its defense though foreign military purchases. Foreign military sales to Poland in fiscal 2023 included AH-64E Apache helicopters; High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS; the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, and M1A1 Abrams Main Battle tanks. 

Hursch also said Poland is involved in a different kind of defense-related cooperation involving defense production. 

"We've recently undertaken some new cooperation with Poland in the joint co-production of some defense systems," he said. "We're looking at how to do that with other allies and partners, as well." 

While the U.S. made record sales of defense articles in fiscal 2023, co-production of defense systems, such as what Hursch said is happening with Poland, has become an increasingly important way for the U.S., allies and partners in Europe and around the globe to strengthen their own defense industrial bases. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, this has become increasingly important, Hursch said.

"One of the principal lessons we have learned in the Ukraine crisis and looking at ourselves as we've gone through this is ... the health of our defense industrial base," he said. "I think we've discovered ... domestically, we need to pay more attention to that. We have a new National Defense Industrial Base Strategy, which has been published by [DOD's] acquisition and sustainment office. But I think it's also true that we're seeing in Europe an increased focus on the strength of the industrial base. And we're looking for ways in which we can cooperate across those industrial bases."

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