“I would expect that to continue … at a very high level,” he said.
In part, that is a response to declining investment in new weaponry for the U.S. armed forces, according to SIPRI arms and military expenditure program director Aude Fleurant.
“The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the U.S. arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing U.S. military expenditure,” said Fleurant in a statement accompanying the SIPRI report.
According to Wezeman, the United States government has an interest in maintaining those production levels because some of the revenue from exports goes into research and development.
“Without exports, the U.S. arms industry would survive,” he said. “It’s just that for the U.S. government, R&D would become more expensive because nobody’s sharing the burden with them."
The export market for U.S. arms manufacturers will likely grow “from 5 to 10 percent of their total output to 25 or 30 percent, maybe more,” he said.