Wednesday Jan 02, 201310:37 AM GMT
US arms sales to Asia set to boom
Wed Jan 2, 2013 10:37AM
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Lockheed Martin’s F-35, assembled at the corporation’s Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

U.S. sales of warplanes, anti-missile systems and other costly weapons to China's and North Korea's neighbors appear set for significant growth amid regional security jitters.

 

Strengthening treaty allies and other security partners is central to the White House's "pivot" toward a Pacific region jolted by maritime territorial disputes in China's case, and missile and nuclear programs, in North Korea's.

 

The pivot "will result in growing opportunities for our industry to help equip our friends," said Fred Downey, vice president for national security at the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group that includes top U.S. arms makers.

 

Demand for big-ticket U.S. weapons is expected to stay strong for at least the next few years, the trade group said in a 2012 year-end review and forecast released in December.

 

Fears resulting from China's growing military spending should lead to enough U.S. sales in South and East Asia to more than offset a slowdown in European arms-buying, according to the forecast.

 

he trade group’s members include Pentagon suppliers Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.

 

The security agency, in response to a Reuters request, said sales agreements with countries in the U.S. Pacific Command's area of activity rose to $13.7 billion in fiscal 2012, up 5.4 percent from a year before. Such pacts represent orders for future delivery.

 

In 2012 there were about 65 notifications to Congress of proposed government-brokered foreign military sales with a combined potential value of more than $63 billion.

 

In addition, the State Department office that regulates direct commercial sales was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.

 

Overall, the United States reached arms transfer agreements in 2011 totaling $66.3 billion, or nearly 78 percent of all such worldwide pacts, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

 

The 2011 total was swollen by a record $33.4 billion deal with Saudi Arabia. India ranked second with $6.9 billion in such agreements.

 

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, who consults for U.S. arms makers through BowerGroupAsia, an advisory with 10 offices in the region, predicted Southeast Asian defense budgets would expand steadily as a hedge against Chinese assertiveness in disputes in the South China and East China seas.

 

The Pentagon is also aiming to boost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the Asia-Pacific along with the introduction of more unmanned systems. Reuters

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The Obama administration says arms sales are an increasingly critical and cost-efficient arrow in its quiver to defend U.S. worldwide interests. CNBC

 

U.S. arms sales to India, now at a cumulative $8 billion from near zero in 2008, are expected to keep on booming. India plans to spend about $100 billion over the next decade to upgrade its arsenal, partly as a counter to China. India and China fought a brief, high-altitude border war in 1962. CNBC

 

The Pentagon is particularly concerned about the growing power of China. China has been developing advanced ballistic missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles that could target U.S. naval forces in the region. AP

 

The Obama administration has been ramping up the pressure on China with an increasingly antagonistic foreign policy. The so-called ‘Asia pivot’ is an aggressive policy that involves surging American military presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region to contain rising Chinese economic and military power. WSJ

 

Chinese officials have warned the U.S. to stay out of the ongoing territorial disputes within the South China Sea, saying that they are “not helpful” and accusing the U.S. of taking sides. Antiwar

 

The U.S. and China are heading toward a more strained relationship with increased mutual distrust, a new study by David Shambaugh, the director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University has shown. Taipei Times

 

AHT/ARA

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