U.S. Arms Sales Continue Decline, Russia Top Exporter in 1995

Article excerpt

NEW REPORTS released by the Department of Defense and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) show that U.S. conventional arms exports continued to drop below Cold War levels in 1995, and Russia emerged as the leading arms dealer to the developing world.

According to Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales and Military Assistance Facts released by the Defense Security Assistance Agency on August 1, U.S. foreign military sales agreementsgovernment-to-government conventional arms transfer agreements-dropped to $9 billion during fiscal year (FY) 1995, a 30 percent drop from the FY94 total of $12.9 billion. All regional markets for U.S. weapons continued to decline in value from their post-Gulf War peaks.

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1988-1995, written by CRS national defense specialist Richard F. Grimmett and released on August 19, reported that in 1995 U.S. conventional arms transfer agreements with developing countries totalled $3.8 billion or approximately a quarter of the weapons market in the developing world. This represents a $2.5 billion drop from the previous year. From 1990 through 1993, with the collapse of the Soviet Union (which previously had dominated the arms market) and the surge in sales of U.S. weaponry following the Gulf War, the United States had led in weapons exports to developing countries. Since 1993, however, U.S. arms exports to developing states have fallen by 76 percent.

For the first time since the end of the Soviet Union, Russia emerged as the largest seller of weapons to developing countries, capturing $6 billion, or 39 percent, of the developing world market in 1995. Russia displaced the 1994 leader, France, which dropped to third place. Russia's total dollar value in arms transfer agreements last year was almost twice its 1994 total. According to Grimmett, sales of Su-27s and Kilo-class attack submarines constituted a large portion of Moscow's arms transfer agreements. Last year Russia agreed to sell China 72 Su-27s at an estimated cost of $2 billion.

According to Grimmett, the shifting in rank between the largest suppliers of conventional weapons may be characteristic of the shrinking post-Cold War arms market as competition for large orders intensifies. …