Tag Archives: U.S. Weapons Programs

U.S. Remains Largest Military Arms Exporter Over Last 5 Years



The United States was the largest exporter of major arms from 2015-2019, delivering 76 percent more materiel than runner-up Russia, according to a new study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank.

The study found that the U.S. provided major arms — defined by the think tank as air defense systems, armored vehicles, missiles and satellites, among other materiel — to 96 countries in those five years, with half of the weapons going to the Middle East.


“The U.S. contributed about 35 percent of all the world’s arms exports during that five-year time period, partly supported by the increased demand for American advanced military aircraft in Europe, Australia, Japan and Taiwan, said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at SIPRI.

From 2015-2019, Russia’s major arms exports decreased by 18 percent; France’s increased by 72 percent, making it the third largest exporter; and Germany’s increased by 17 percent, making it the fourth largest exporter.

Worldwide arms exports rose nearly 6 percent in 2015-2019 from 2010-2014, and increased 20 percent from since 2005-2009, SIPRI said.

Arm exports to countries in conflict in the Middle East increased by 61 percent in 2015-2019 compared to 2010-2014, the study showed. Saudi Arabia, the country to which the U.S. exported the most arms, was the largest importer globally in 2015-2019. The kingdom’s imports increased 130 percent compared to the previous five-year period. Armored vehicles, trainer aircraft, missiles and guided bombs were among the leading arms purchased by the kingdom.

Despite attempts in Congress to restrict arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the delivery of major arms, including 30 combat aircraft ordered in 2011, continued in 2019 as the U.S. provided 73% of Saudi Arabia’s imports.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration to push through an $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries for precision-guided bombs and related components. In July, he said blocking the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia would “weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationship [the United States] share with [its] allies and partners.”

U.S. arms exports to Europe and Africa increased by 45 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2015-2019. U.S. arms exports to Asia and the Oceania region decreased by 20 percent, as a result of fewer arms exports to India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Since 2018, the U.S. has exported almost 100 major weapons to international organizations like the United Nations, the African Union and NATO, the report said, noting that Russia did not send weapons to these organizations.

Among the top 10 arms exporters outside Europe and North America, Israel and South Korea showed the biggest increase in exports. Israeli arms exports increased by 77 percent in 2015-2019 — a record for the country, according to the study. South Korea, which showed a 143 percent increase during that same time period, more than doubled its number of export clients.”


Scapegoating China Won’t Solve Industrial Base Woes


Relationship USA-China flags paper background

Image: “istock”


“The Multi-Agency Task Force Report, “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States” [Quote] “China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security.”

OK. So, how is the United States going to respond? China is throwing down the gauntlet. Let’s get out there and compete and win. Not whine. Here are a few more assertions and some thoughts to go with them.”

“It is clear that the U.S. government has no one to blame but itself for the predicaments it finds itself in concerning the defense industrial base.

The report mentions five major problems: sequestration and uncertainty of U.S. government spending; decline of U.S. manufacturing capability and capacity; U.S. government business practices; diminishing U.S. science, engineering, technology and math education and trade skills; and industrial policies of competitor nations.

Four out of five have everything to do with U.S. government policies, its educational institutions and its capitalistic system — which embraces the notion that “competition is good.”

Breaking down the “competitor nations” section, the report goes into widely known facts and figures about China’s industrial might and the trade imbalance.

The report mentions China’s push to make technological and economic leaps with its “Made in China 2025” and “One Belt, One Road” policies. China has declared that it wants to be No. 1 in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics “and other emerging technologies critical to national defense.”

China lures in U.S. and foreign companies which trade access to their intellectual property in order to cash in on the Chinese market.

Is someone putting a gun against their heads?

China is cornering the global market on strategic minerals and rare-earth elements, which are essential for the manufacture of some weapon systems.

News flash. We have rare-earth elements in U.S. soil. Get digging. (But these mines wouldn’t be profitable for the private sector.) If the U.S. government can own a tank factory for the good of U.S. security, why can’t it own a rare-earth element mine?

China invests in developing countries in exchange for deals to get raw materials.

Anyone who has been to Africa in the past 30 years will see Chinese-built soccer stadiums, Chinese-built roads, bridges and hospitals staffed with Chinese doctors and nurses. China has plenty of cash to buy friends. This is the playing field, like it or not. Will America compete, or cede its influence by cutting funds to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development?

China is engaging in industrial espionage to improve its weapon systems.

It has been more than a decade since Pentagon officials began sounding the alarm on Chinese IP theft. Industrial espionage has been around a long time and isn’t going to go away. Fool me once opening an attachment containing a virus, shame on China. Fool me again, again and again over the course of a decade, shame on me.

Yes, China competes unfairly in a lot of areas, but are we waiting for a referee to run in and throw a yellow flag to make it stop?

The good news is that the report does have several recommendations to stem the bleeding.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said as far as a lack of fanfare, it should be known that some recommendations are already being implemented. “Quite often studies end up being books that get put on a desk and are reference materials,” he told reporters recently. That is not the case here, he insisted.

Many of the action items surround what he called “China Inc.” and are listed in the classified version of the report. There are other ongoing initiatives on cybersecurity that are separate from the new study. “The partnership with the defense industrial base has been significant,” he noted.

Hopefully, the words in the report will translate to action despite it receiving little media attention. And as for China, it has made its intentions known. How will the United States respond?”


Sample the Arsenal Inside the Pentagon’s Weapons Programs


pentagon_cropped21“WASHINGTON POST”



The F-35 $400,000 Helmet

“Like the plane, the helmet is enormously expensive. The cost of each custom-made helmet is more than $400,000. And like the plane, which is years behind schedule and millions over its original budget, the helmet has encountered problems.

Earlier versions were jittery when the plane hit turbulence. There was a latency in the video, which caused pilots motion sickness. The night vision technology didn’t work as well as it should have. There was a “green glow” that obscured the pilots’ view. Things got so bad that in 2011 the Pentagon hired BAE Systems to build a back-up helmet in case the one in development couldn’t be rescued.”



The $55 Billion Mystery Plan

“Highly classified, the program is one of the Air Force’s top priorities — and its most expensive. The service estimates it will cost $55 billion to build as many as 100 of what it calls the Long Range Strike Bomber, which is designed to fly deep into enemy territory undetected until the mushroom cloud begins to bloom.

In the coming months, the Air Force is expected to award a contract for the next-generation bomber, which would begin flying in the mid-2020s, have the potential to fly manned or unmanned and give the military the ability to hit any target “at any point on the globe.”