U.S. Still Top Arms Supplier to South as Record Sale to Saudis PendsThe report, the latest in an annual series produced by CRS on conventional arms sales, was released Monday as the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon will ask Congress as early as next week to approve a record 60-billion-dollar sale of jet fighters and helicopters to Saudi Arabia.
The proposed sale, which could be supplemented by an additional 30-billion-dollar deal to upgrade the Saudi kingdom's naval forces and yet another for new missile- defense systems, would not only consolidate Washington's position as the world's dominant arms provider.
It would also by itself exceed the value of all conventional arms transfers agreements signed worldwide by developing and developed countries alike in 2009 – 57.5 billion dollars, according to the CRS report – and would easily restore Saudi Arabia's status as the developing world's biggest arms consumer, a position from which it was dethroned in 2009 by new arms agreements signed by Brazil and Venezuela.
"Sixty billion dollars is about half of what the Pentagon spends on weapons every year," said William Hartung, a veteran arms-sales analyst at the New America Foundation. "It's a huge bail-out for the military contractors who are facing a period when Pentagon spending is leveling off."