A Walk Through U.S. Arms Sales and Aid to Operation Decisive Storm Countries
Operation Decisive Storm, a coalition of ten countries led by Saudi Arabia conducting military operations against the insurgent group known as the Houthis in Yemen, includes some of the largest recipients of U.S. security assistance and arms sales in the world. In fact, the coalition has received a combined total of $10.5 billion in U.S. military aid and $23 billion in U.S. arms sales from FY 2009 to FY 2014 from the United States. As these countries continue to engage in airstrikes against targets in Yemen with support from the United States, here is a breakdown of what the United States has been providing since FY 2009, and what they might be using during the operation.
The kingdom is leading the coalition against its southern neighbor and is the only coalition partner that actually shares a border with Yemen. To date, it has committed 100 fighter jets and 150,000 soldiers and navy units ready if the coalition decides to send in troops. From FY 2009 to FY 2014, the United States delivered approximately $13 billion worth of arms and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) programs, making Saudi the largest recipient of FMS by more than double the second largest purchaser in the world. In FY 2014, the United States approved Saudi Arabia to purchase at least $3.8 billion. The Saudis have purchased an array of advanced equipment including advanced fighter jets, Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, and air refueling aircraft. A portion of the FMS purchased by Saudi Arabia has been training, totaling approximately $200 million just from FY 2009 to FY 2011, a significant amount considering how much less training costs than equipment. To save on FMS training, mostly technical and operational training, the U.S. government has provided the Kingdom the minimum amount of International Military Education Training (IMET) funds (approximately $10,000) needed to qualify for large FMS discounts on trainings.
United Arab Emirates
The Emirates have promised the coalition 30 fighter jets in the fight against the Houthis. The UAE received $5.7 billion in military equipment and training from the United States from FY 2009 to FY 2013 from the FMS and DCS programs and made new agreements for over $3.8 billion in sales in FY 2014. The equipment received has included missiles, radar, other spare parts and equipment, and nearly $80 million in mostly operational training from FY 2009 to FY 2011.
Egypt has contributed warships and air support to the coalition and even offered ground forces if the coalition decides to send in troops. For years, Egypt has received approximately $1.3 billion in U.S. military assistance per year, mostly in expensive weapons and military equipment like M1A1 Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets, Harpoon missiles and Apache helicopters. The annual assistance package makes Egypt one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid in the world, and the second largest overall recipient behind Israel. Relations with the United States have been strained recently though, when following the removal of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, the United States suspended part of its military aid. However, just last week and after Decisive Storm had begun, the administration announced that it would resume the suspended military aid to Egypt and already $57 million worth of Hellfire missiles has been approved.
The Kuwait government has committed 15 fighter jets to the coalitions airstrikes. Although not as prolific a purchaser of U.S. arms and training as some of its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) neighbors, Kuwait received approximately $1.7 billion in arms sales from FY 2009 to FY 2013, including missiles and parts for its Patriot Missile Defense System, technical support for its F-18 fleet, ammunition and over $47 million in training. Kuwait was also approved for the purchase of roughly $1.7 billion in military facility and infrastructure construction in FY 2014.
Bahrain, like Kuwait, has committed 15 fighter jets to the coalition. The tiny Gulf country receives the most military assistance from the United States of any GCC member state in addition to the large amounts of arms and training it purchases. From FY 2009 to FY 2014, Bahrain received $101 million in military assistance, 74 percent of which came from the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which included upgrades to its F-16 fleet and advanced air-to-air missiles. The United States also delivered $532 million worth of military equipment and training from FY 2009 to FY 2013 in arms sales from FMS and DCS, which some of the FMF grants could have covered. Following the Arab uprisings in 2011, the administration reduced the amount of arms sales and assistance provided to Bahrain to only “external defense” equipment after its harsh crackdown on protesters, but refrained from suspending all security assistance.
Qatar’s participation in the coalition, with 10 fighter jets, is seen as part of the renewing of good relations with its GCC members after a public spat led to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE pulling its ambassadors from Qatar last fall. Qatar has received only minimal amounts of security assistance and purchased $661 million in U.S. arms from FY 2009 to FY 2013. However, in July 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited Doha and announced the sale of over $11 billion in arms and training including Patriot missile batteries, Apache helicopters and anti-tank missiles. Up until this large purchase of U.S. equipment, France has been the major arms supplier for Qatar, providing 80 percent of its current arms inventory.
Jordan is providing 6 fighter jets to the coalition air strikes. Since 2003, the United States has provided Jordan at least $200 million in security assistance per year and from FY 2009 to FY 2014 received over $2.5 billion. According to the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, base funding for military assistance will remain at $300 million per year. Jordan, like the others so far, are equipped with advanced air-to-air missiles, F-16s and Blackhawk helicopters among other high-tech equipment.
Morocco is contributing 6 fighter jets as well to the coalition. The United States provided Morocco with approximately $108 million in military assistance from FY 2009 to FY 2014 mostly for counterterrorism. Although, not as wealthy as some of the other coalition partners, and not a normally large purchaser of U.S. military equipment, in FY 2011 and FY 2012, Morocco purchased over $1.5 billion in FMS, including 17 F-16 fighter jets.
Sudan has committed 3 fighter jets to the coalition. Sudan has only received modest amounts of security assistance from the United States and mostly in support of neighboring countries’ peacekeeping operations within the country. Following the independence of South Sudan, U.S. security assistance has stopped.
This blog was updated on April 15, 2015 to reflect Pakistan officially leaving the coalition.
Seth Binder is the Program Associate for the Security Assistance Monitor and covers the Middle East and North Africa.