On Tuesday, during a joint session of Congress, it's expected that President Trump will announce his plan to
World leaders will be acutely tuned in to the leader of the world's most powerful (and most costly) fighting force, who on Friday vowed to kick off one "greatest military buildups in American history" at the Conservative Political Action Conference. According to reports the White House plan calls for a total of $603 in military spending.
The U.S. defense industry will especially be tuned in. The $100 billion global weapons trade is booming, and the United States remains the industry's firmly entrenched leader, accounting for 33 percent of the world's arms exports.
Last year U.S. arms exports reached roughly $38 billion, according to management consulting firm Avascent. America's biggest customers: Saudi Arabia (13 percent), the United Arab Emirates (8.7 percent) and Turkey (6.3 percent).
Alongside sales of combat aircraft, like Boeing's F-15, the United States enjoyed particularly strong demand for its missile defense systems, such as the Patriot PAC-3 system, produced by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. Saudi Arabia, Japan, Kuwait, Qatar, Poland, Taiwan and the UAE have all selected, ordered or received PAC-3 systems since 2012 as a counterweight to perceived regional missile threats, including those from Iran and North Korea.
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But even as demand for sophisticated military equipment — everything from guided aerial bombs to fighter jets to missile defense systems — spikes across the globe, analysts note that the competitive landscape is growing more nuanced as well. A rising tide of defense spending may not lift all defense contractors as evenly as in previous eras of military largesse as new political realities bump up against an industry where any individual deal can be part commercial transaction, part diplomatic maneuver and part foreign trade negotiation.
According to data released this month by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2012 and 2016 international arms deals increased by 8.4 percent over the previous five-year period, the highest increase for any five-year period since the end of the Cold War. Compared with the five years preceding, the United States increased its arms exports by 21 percent during that period, a reflection of the growing importance of foreign military sales to large U.S. defense contractors as domestic budget pressures have curtailed U.S. defense spending at home.