'Section 655' Report Details U.S. Arms Trade

The Defense Department delivered over $19.3 billion in arms and military assistance to 116 countries during fiscal year (FY) 1997, while the State Department approved commercial export licenses that could result in sales of weapons and equipment valued at over $24.7 billion to more than 150 countries and territories. These figures, covering the period from October 1, 1996 to September 30, 1997, were contained in the latest "Section 655" report that the two departments prepare annually for Congress.

Nearly 81 percent of the deliveries, conducted through the Foreign Military Sales program and various grant programs—excess defense articles, emergency drawdowns and international military education and training (IMET)—flowed to the Near East and South Asia ($8.3 billion) and the Far East (almost $7.3 billion). Taiwan ($5.69 billion), Saudi Arabia ($4.69 billion) and Egypt ($1.2 billion) were the leading recipients. Aircraft, including 23 F-15S and 89 F-16 fighters, helicopters and associated spare parts represented over half ($9.8 billion) of the total deliveries.

NATO allies combined for $9.4 billion of the approved licenses, while Japan accounted for $4.6 billion. States have four years to act under the licenses, not all of which result in actual sales.