Five of the Largest Customers of U.S. Weapons

One of Greenwood Aerospace’s missions is helping foreign nations settle of defense articles, services, parts, and aircraft for their nation’s military needs. We have helped a number of nations do exactly that and will help with your FMS contracting and procurement needs, too. 

Today we’re going to take a look at a handful of the largest foreign buyers of U.S. weapons, which will include defense articles, parts, and other maintenance services. These aren’t necessarily the top five largest consumers, but they are some of the most prolific. Let’s take a look. 

1. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has long been a stalwart ally of the United States in the Middle East region. The Royal Saudi Armed Forces are a formidable regional force, numbering nearly three hundred thousand members between the branches (Royal Saudi Army, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense, and Strategic Missile Force).  

We have had a solid alliance with Saudi Arabia for decades now, which was showcased in the original Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. We operated the bulk of our air operations from Prince Sultan Air Base and through Saudi airspace for the bulk of the war effort.

Today, Saudi Arabia spends about $1.3 bn annually on U.S. weapons and weapon systems for its military and defense forces. Although this number is huge, Saudi Arabia is still only our second-largest military army purchaser. 

One of the more interesting facts about the Saudi military is that the Royal Saudi Air Force maintains and flies the second-largest fleet of F-15 Eagles, only behind the United States. 

2. Qatar

In terms of spending, Qatar is right behind Saudi Arabia in the third spot, spending just over $1.3 bn annually on U.S. military weapons, services, defense articles, etc. With total spending of around $1.9 bn, the bulk of their military spending.  

Qatar has been a bedrock of support for the U.S. war efforts during Operation Enduring Freedom, during which we stationed tankers and bombers and operated all kinds of other aircraft out of Al Udeid Airbase. 

The Qatari military is among the 50 largest importers of weapons in the world. Why the heavy armaments? Qatar is a key member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a multi-national group of states committed to keeping peace in the Gulf Region. 

Qatar spends most of its money on U.S. weapons manufacturers to support its land forces, although it maintains a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets. 

Photo by UR-SDV (GFDL <> or GFDL <>), via Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC By 2.0.

3. Kuwait

Kuwait is a small country in terms of population and land mass, but it punches well above its weight in terms of defense spending. In 2022, Kuwait was the largest buyer of American military gear. 

You can’t really blame them; after they were invaded by a much larger military force in Iraq in 1990, they invested heavily in defense. Kuwait spends over $2 bn on U.S. military equipment, services, and defense articles. Kuwait has purchased a wide variety of U.S. military equipment and defense articles, including:

  • Aircraft: Kuwait has purchased a variety of U.S. aircraft, including F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
  • Armor: Kuwait has purchased a number of U.S. tanks, including M1 Abrams tanks and M60 Patton tanks.
  • Artillery: Kuwait has also purchased substantial quantities of U.S. artillery, including M777 howitzers and M109 self-propelled artillery.
  • Other equipment: Kuwait has also purchased all kinds of other U.S. military equipment, including armored vehicles, communications equipment, and night vision goggles.

It is important to note that this is just a partial list of the U.S. military equipment and defense articles that Kuwait has purchased. The exact types and quantities of equipment that Kuwait has purchased have varied over time, and they are likely to continue to evolve in the future. But whatever they procure, it appears that their purchasing efforts are growing. 

Kuwait, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, is bolstering its military presence for reasons other than its own self-preservation. 

4. Israel

Israel is not all that high on the list for military purchases from the U.S., although their annual expenditure of $422 million in 2022 is not insignificant. However, these numbers are always subject to change and different figures, especially as conflicts loom or are in progress. 

For example, with the current fight over Gaza, Israel stands to purchase up to 50 F-15 Eagles from the U.S., which would be worth around $18 bn. This is not an annual procurement but a one-time purchase, although there will be huge opportunities for service and defense articles for many years to come.  

5. Australia

The Aussies have been stalwart allies of the American vision and have stood by our side through many conflicts since World War II. 

Much of the Australian military machinery is American systems, including AP-3C Orions, F/A-18 Hornets, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, E-7A Wedgetail AWACS aircraft, and C-130 Hercs. These are just some samples of their war machines; American machinery and defense articles certainly make up more than just their aerial assets. 

In 2022, Australia spent over $700 million on U.S. arms, and these numbers vary considerably from year to year. With so much of their military relying on American-made systems, these numbers aren’t very likely to decrease. Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales will continue to be strong going into the future, supporting these weapon systems.    

Parting Thoughts

We looked at five of the leading buyers of American military arms here, but that is kind of a misnomer mostly because ‘military arms’ do not end when the piece of equipment is sold. In fact, this is really just the beginning. A single F-16 will require all kinds of software updates, eventually avionics, radar, and defensive avionics hardware upgrades, and hundreds of time-compliance technical orders (TCTOs) from the OEM throughout its lifecycle. 

Greenwood Aerospace is your trusted partner in the FMS program. We have years of experience with FMSs supplying parts, MIL-SPEC packaging, and securing contract maintenance programs of foreign nations. Give us a call to talk about your needs, or you can start an online quote today!