Foreign Military Sales in 2010

Latin America and the Caribbean

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists' Arms Sales Monitoring Program, the Just the Facts database now includes information about weapons and equipment that the United States government sold to Latin America and the Caribbean through the Foreign Military Sales program in 2010. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) is one of two programs through which military equipment is sold from the United States to the rest of the world. FMS is the means through which the U.S. government sells items directly to other governments, with the Department of Defense serving as an intermediary. U.S. corporations can sell directly to other governments as well; those sales are licensed by the Department of State through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program. In 2010, the U.S. government delivered over $627 million in military equipment to Latin America and the Caribbean - $495 million more than in 2009. The regional total for deliveries through FMS had been in a decline since its peak in 2006, when Chile received several high-tech F-16 fighter planes. However, 2010 marked a dramatic, 245% increase in sales deliveries to the hemisphere. This significant jump is mainly attributed to Colombia. In 2010 alone, Colombia received over $455 million in military equipment that it purchased through the FMS program - over two-thirds of the region's total in 2010 and more than twice the region's 2009 total ($201 million). While Colombia is said to be a "post-conflict" country, the Colombian government took its highest-ever number of deliveries in a single year (since 1996) on purchases of military equipment through FMS. The country's major purchases in 2010 included 15 UH-60 (Black Hawk) helicopters, 39 armored cars, 71 "other" weapons and ordnance, and 104 miscellaneous boats/craft. The top 20 items delivered to Colombia through FMS in 2010 were:

  • Helicopter, UH-60: $192,734,000
  • Other Weapons & Ordnance: $57,033,000
  • Car, Armored: $41,394,000
  • Other Communications Eqp: $18,466,000
  • Spare Parts, Aircraft: $18,125,000
  • Boat/Craft, Miscellaneous: $16,811,000
  • Logistics Mgmt Expenses: $15,337,000
  • Aircraft, Observation O-1: $12,992,000
  • Technical Assistance: $12,496,000
  • Spares, Weapon: $10,333,000
  • Support Eqp, Miscellaneous: $9,921,000
  • Other Services: $9,183,000
  • Spares, Vehicle & Support: $5,330,000
  • Repair & Rehabilitation: $4,117,000
  • Aircraft, Miscellaneous: $3,607,000
  • Training Aids/Publications: $3,081,000
  • Cartridge, 37mm to 75mm: $2,838,000
  • Supply Operations: $2,635,000
  • Gun, Machine: $2,582,000
  • Other Supplies: $2,575,000

Even with sales to Colombia removed from the equation, FMS deliveries to the rest of the region still increased in 2010, with Brazil, Chile and Mexico leading the pack with significant increases. The Just the Facts database also includes information on sales licensed through the State Department's Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program, though it is important to keep in mind that perhaps half of the DCS licenses have not ended up as actual deliveries of equipment. Licenses granted by the State Department are valid for four years, during which sales may be delayed or canceled. And while the State Department records the licenses issued, it does not maintain reliable records of actual DCS deliveries. That said, the graph below shows the trend in all arms sales, from FMS and DCS combined, from 1996 to 2010.