U.S. Foreign Military Sales Tracker

Type the name of a country into the search box to view U.S. arms sales between 2001-2015

What are Foreign Military Sales (FMS)?

FMS is the primary process through which the U.S. Government sells weapons to the governments of other countries. In conducting FMS, the Department of Defense (DoD) acts largely as a broker between foreign governments and U.S. arms manufacturers. The defense ministries of foreign governments submit a Letter of Request (LoR), which the U.S. State Department reviews. If approved, a DoD agency called the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) mediates negotiations between the applicant and the contractor, levying a commission on the sale to finance its own operations. As such, the FMS program is operated at no net cost to taxpayers, but is slightly more expensive than private arms sales(Ibid). Once a request is approved by the DoD and DoS, it is sent to Congress for final approval. If the sale is successful, U.S. military personnel are often sent to train the foreign military in the use of the weaponry. This process is outlined below: 

History of FMS: 

Under intense public pressure to end the Vietnam War, Nixon articulated the “Guam Doctrine”, under which “the U.S. would look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense” (Rusciolelli, 1991). To that same end, Congress passed the Foreign Military Sales Act in 1968 authorizing the President to sell military hardware to foreign governments, thus establishing the FMS program. Within seven years it eclipsed the value of military aid by a factor of 15:1, and became an enduring element of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War (Klare, 1976:14). 

As the U.S. attempts to exctricate itself once again from intractable counterinsurgencies, it has begun to rely heavily on FMS. The lack of public attention to Foreign Military Sales has allowed many large contracts to go unchecked. The U.S. has transferred White Phosphorus to the Saudi Arabian and Israeli governments through FMS, which have been against civilians in Yemen and Gaza. Public scrutiny works-- Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) halted the transfer of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines over concerns regarding Duterte's abysmal human rights record. 

Data Sources: 

This tool was compiled using data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which publishes a PDF report of its operations for that year. Older reports were accessed using the Wayback Machine and collated into a single dataset. Values are adjusted for inflation.


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