US weapons exports hit record high

The US sold a record $238bn (£187bn) worth of weapons overseas last year - with the war in Ukraine fuelling demand.

Poland, Germany, Australia and the Czech Republic were among the countries that bought weapons worth billions directly from the US government in 2023.

These types of deals accounted for $81bn (£64bn) in the total amount of sales - a 56% increase from 2022, the state department said.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has vowed to continue the previous government's military modernisation programme - as its neighbour Ukraine approaches the second anniversary of Russia's invasion.

The country bought Apache helicopters for $12bn (£9.4bn), it spent £10bn (£7.8bn) on high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars) and $4bn (£3.1bn) on integrated air and missile defence battle command systems.

It also purchased M1A1 Abrams battle tanks for $3.75bn (£2.95bn).

Germany spent $8.5bn (£6.7bn) on Chinook helicopters while the Czech Republic bought F-35 jets and munitions for $5.6bn (£4.4bn).

Bulgaria bought Stryker vehicles worth $1.5bn (£1.1bn), while Norway spent $1bn (£788m) on multi-mission helicopters.

Outside of Europe, Australia paid the US $6.35bn (£5bn) for C130J-30 Super Hercules planes, South Korea paid $5bn (£3.9bn) for F-35 jets and another $1.5bn (£1.1bn) on Chinook helicopters, while Japan bought an E-2D Hawkeye surveillance plane in a $1.38bn (£1.08bn) deal.

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Meanwhile, Canada paid $5.9bn (£4.6bn) for P-8 Poseidon aircraft, while Kuwait spent $3bn (£2.3bn) on air defence systems and another $1.8bn (£1.4bn) on technical support.

Qatar also paid $1bn (£788m) for a fixed-site, low, slow, small unmanned aircraft integrated defeat system.

"Arms transfers and defence trade are important US foreign policy tools with potential long-term implications for regional and global security," the state department's annual memo said.

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US sales were also boosted by countries stopping purchases from Russia, according to Politico. Russia has been the largest seller of weapons after the US for decades.

US President Joe Biden has come under pressure from the Republican opposition about the US's spending on the Ukraine war.

He has argued however that US support in Ukraine boosts the domestic economy through arms sales.