United States military weaponry is flying off the shelves in Europe thanks to Russia.
Since the beginning of the year, countries in the European Union have pledged to increase their military spending by some $230 billion, with Germany alone planning to spend $100 billion this year. The United States arms industry sells more weapons than any other country and has been the biggest beneficiary.
The U.K., Italy, and the Netherlands all spent at least part of their recent military expenditures on American-made weaponry. Europe has recently bought arms.
Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform, said that this is the biggest increase in defense spending in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
The war in Ukraine has shaken countries and people who had peace for a long time. He said that many Europeans had thought that war on the continent was impossible. They are waking up to the fact that it is possible but not so far away from them.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused defense spending in Europe to plummet. That is rapidly changing.
"Many European countries have plans to increase their military spending very significantly and to increase their purchases of arms as part of that." Purchases originally planned for later this decade are being accelerated.
According to William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, European countries have offered $33 billion of arms since President Biden took office. Hartung told Yahoo News that the $21 billion estimate is low as it is only government-to-government deals and not direct commercial sales.
European arms imports have increased since the war began. Hartung said that they were growing at a rapid rate. Since February, the amount of European arms deals has doubled. We have a few months to go.
Europe is now seen as a hot spot for U.S. arms dealers.
The realization in Europe that defense stocks had been run down over the last 30 years drove this. The American defense industry is so large that countries don't have to wait for cutting edge arms to be developed. One reason is that countries in East and Central Europe want to keep the U.S. on their side. It is possible to support American defense manufacturers.
The American F-35 combat airplane is the most popular high-end item from the US in Europe. Three dozen of the fighter planes were ordered by Switzerland in September for over $6 billion.
Hartung said that those kinds of big-money sales cause a lot of tension with European arms manufacturers.
Wezeman said that the F-35 has more bells and whistles than domestic models.
He said that it makes use of advanced electronics, advanced communication systems, and network systems. You get something that is often considered better than European alternatives. I don't know if that's true, but that's the message we usually hear.
The U.S. doesn't lead every arms sector in Europe, but it does lead the F-35s.
It has a sticker price of around $79 million per plane, making it more expensive than other fighter aircraft. According to Bond, the French are not enthusiastic about other European countries buying F-35s from the Americans, and were especially unhappy when Germany announced in late July that it wanted to order 35 of the F-35 fighter planes.
Despite its history of sparking World War II, analysts in Europe are happy to see Germany building up its military power again. One of NATO's biggest armies during the Cold War was West Germany. The Bundeswehr would have been on the frontline if the Soviet Union attacked Western Europe.
Over the past 30 years, Germany largely neglected its military, failing to meet NATO's requirement to put 2% of its GDP towards defense, a loud complaint of former President Donald Trump.
Bond said that most of them have been trying to get the Germans to spend more on defense. He said that Germany should hit 2% this year.
He said that defense spending is no longer seen as a ceiling. It is seen more as the floor in countries that feel vulnerable.
According to Security Assistance Monitor, which tracks U.S. arms, Poland spent $6 billion on U.S. arms alone this year. Other countries are increasing their arms budgets as well.
Hartung said that the U.S. is paying disproportionately for the defense of Europe. The money that goes back from U.S. arms sales to Europe isn't taken into account. It is a closer balance than U.S. politicians would like you to believe.
Two arms analysts, Hartung and Wezeman, think that Europe's purchases are part of a growing global arms race. Hartung notes that if European arms purchases are coordinated, there could be less reliance on the US. The countries seem to be buying without an approach to European security. The surge of sales may not increase Europe's defense capability in an effective way.
What are you going to do to deter Russia? Wezemen wanted to know.