The Obama administration has approved more than $278 billion in foreign arms sales in its eight years, more than double the total of the previous administration, according to figures released by the Pentagon on Tuesday.
Many of the approved deals — most but hardly all of which have become actual sales — have been to Mideast nations, including key allies in the campaign against Islamic State militants and countries that have been building up their defenses in fear of a nuclear Iran.
Saudi Arabia has been the largest recipient, reaping prospective deals worth more than $115 billion, according to notices announcing the deals that were sent to Congress for approval.
“Nobody even comes close” for the number of deals and total value, said William Hartung, director of the Arms Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
Among the weapons approved for Riyadh: F-15 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters, Blackhawk utility helicopters, missile interceptors, armored vehicles and bombs and missiles.
But Hartung noted that only about half of those approvals have so far resulted in actual contracts. For instance, the administration approved an $11.25 billion sale of four Lockheed Martin Multi-Mission Surface Combatants last year, but the Saudis have yet to place an order for the warships.