WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Foreign sales of U.S. weapons rose to $34.8 billion in fiscal year 2011 and should hover around $30 billion this year, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Pentagon agency that oversees foreign arms sales, said sales in the fiscal year ended September 30 topped $30 billion for the fourth consecutive year after reaching $31.6 billion in fiscal 2010.
Strong export prospects are good news for U.S. weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, and Raytheon Co, which hope to offset declining U.S. defense spending with bigger sales overseas.
Such sales, the Pentagon said, support U.S. national defense and foreign policy "by helping our partners acquire the defense articles, services, and training they need to provide for their own defense and to be interoperable with the United States and partner nations during coalition operations."
The Pentagon said government-to-government foreign military sales totaled $28.3 billion in fiscal 2011, while other sales managed by various government agencies reached $6.5 billion.
Afghanistan, Taiwan, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia were top buyers of U.S. arms last year, the Defense Department said. Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Japan and Sweden were the next largest buyers.
DSCA said it expected foreign military sales were expected to continue to be about $30 billion for fiscal year 2012, but official projections were still being calculated.
Biggest buyers and total spent:
1. Afghan Security Forces, $5.4 billion
2. Taiwan government, $4.9 billion
3. India, $4.5 billion
4. Australia, $3.9 billion
5. Saudi Arabia, $3.5 billion
6. Iraq, $2.0 billion
7. United Arab Emirates, $1.5 billion
8. Israel, $1.4 billion
9. Japan, $500 million
10.Sweden, $500 million
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa, editing by Bob Burgdorfer)