America has provided weapons to other nations for decades. In World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt described the U.S. as the “arsenal for democracy” just before America entered the war. Large factories in the country’s biggest cities were then converted from their traditional manufacturing purposes to making tanks, airplanes, and other ordnance of war for the period from 1940 to 1945. These arms were shipped around the world, to nations as far as the Soviet Union. (Here are all of the weapons the U.S. has committed to Ukraine since the invasion.)
Today, the U.S. continues to supply military equipment to nations around the world, and the country’s weapons-making industry has become one of America’s largest. The industry relies somewhat on the U.S.’s other nations’ military or “defense” budgets. And Saudi Arabia has a large military budget.
The Kingdom bought $17.61 billion-worth of arms from U.S. defense contractors from 2010 to 2020, the highest of any country, based on Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data. Looking at just one branch and using data from the Army Weapon Systems Handbook for 2020-2021, 24/7 Wall St. also found that both Saudi Arabia and Egypt bought 15 defense systems from Army contractors in 2020 and 2021, the most of any other country. These are active or in development systems. According to the Handbook, building up our allies’ military capabilities can “contribute to global security.”
The systems Saudi Arabia bought from Army contractors include high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, artillery ammunition, Black Hawk utility helicopter, Hellfire family of missiles, and Abrams main battle tank.
The sales to Saudi Arabia have become controversial recently when the country decided to cut oil production, thereby leading to higher gas prices. The Washington Post reported that lawmakers are considering pulling U.S. troops from the country and stopping all arms sales. (Saudi Arabia does not, however, have the most oil reserves. This is the country that has the most oil.)
Egypt also bought the same number of systems from Army contactors, including Hydra rocket systems, Black Hawk utility helicopter, Hellfire family of missiles, Abrams main battle tank, and Avenger air defense system. Egypt, however, spent a far lower amount, $2.56 billion, on buying weapons from the U.S. from 2010 to 2020.
Here is 24/7 Wall St.’s full list of countries that buy the most weapons from the U.S. Army.
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