U.S. weapons exports in 2023 increased by more than 50% from 2022, earning defense companies $81 billion in profits driven by Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Politico reported Jan. 29, citing unpublished State Department figures.
Russia's war has spurred the U.S. arms industry, which supplies military hardware to Ukraine and wary NATO allies amid increasingly aggressive anti-Western posturing from Moscow.
Sales of attack and transport helicopters, and long-range missile launchers to Poland and Germany constituted around $30 billion in the three largest deals, according to the report.
Poland's move to increase its military strength in the face of Russia's threat resulted in a $12 billion deal for AH-64E Apache helicopters, a $10 billion deal for a long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a $4 billion deal for Integrated Air And Missile Defense Battle Command Systems, and a $3.75 billion deal for M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.
Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Norway also struck billion-dollar deals with U.S. weapons manufacturers as fears rise that Russia's war will spread beyond Ukraine's borders.
German NATO commander Alexander Sollfrank said on Jan. 29 that member nations should prepare for the possibility of Russian missile strikes in Europe.
Poland's national security agency also reported on Dec. 5, 2023 that Russia could attack NATO directly within the next three years.
Mira Resnick, who runs the State Department’s Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers, told Politico that the increase in U.S. weapons exports reflects Russia's dwindling share of the global arms market.
“The Russian defense industry is failing and continues to fail,” Resnick said.
Sanctions against Russia's defense sector have led to new opportunities for U.S. manufacturers. The U.S. and India agreed on a $1.8 billion deal in 2023 on engine production as India distances itself from Moscow, its largest weapons supplier.
“We are seeing in the ‘Global South’ real tough decisions by partners to move away from Russian equipment. We would love to see more from India on this and we continue to work and explore different defensive trade opportunities with India," Resnick said.
Russia has historically been the world's second-largest weapons exporter after the U.S., but a September 2023 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) showed that Russia's role in the global defense industry has been severely undermined by its all-out war against Ukraine.