Lieutenant General Charles Hooper, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, told Reuters on Tuesday that the US foreign military sales hit 55.6 billion dollars in the fiscal year ending September 30.
According to Reuters, the increase in foreign military sales came in part because the Trump administration rolled out a new “Buy American” plan in April that relaxed restrictions on sales while encouraging US officials to take a bigger role in increasing business overseas for the US weapons industry.
Hooper said the $55.6 billion figure represented signed letters of agreement for foreign military sales between the United States and allies.
The United States sold over $40 billion worth of weapons last year, maintaining its position as the world’s dominant arms supplier.
A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed in March that the US has increased its arms sales by 25 percent over the past five years.
It also said some half of US arms exports during that period have gone to the Middle East, and that Saudi Arabia registered a 225-percent rise in military purchases – almost all from the US and Europe.
Saudi Arabia was the first country US President Donald Trump visited after taking office last year. It was announced during his visit to Riyadh that Washington could sell $110 billion in military equipment to Saudi Arabia in a period of 10 years. The State Department said at the time that the deal could grow to $350 billion over a decade.
The massive arms sales come despite repeated international calls on the US to stop supporting the Saudis with modern weaponry, which the kingdom has, according to many reports, used in its devastating war on Yemen.
The White House has also been criticized by both human rights groups and US lawmakers in Congress from both political parties for allowing its Saudi ally to bomb Yemen.
Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression in March 2015.
Washington has denied it is directly supplying the Saudis with weapons in the war but numerous reports have suggested that US arms have played a part in massive civilian casualties.