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Fight Against ISIS, Global Armed Conflicts Fuel U.S. Foreign Arms Sales

U.S. foreign arms sales rose by 36 percent to $46.6 billion in fiscal 2015 and likely to stay strong in coming years, a top Pentagon official told Reuters. The demand is being fuelled by the fight against Islamic State militants and other armed conflicts around the globe.

"Projections are still strong," Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, who heads the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.

Rixey said the demand for U.S. missile defense equipment, helicopters and munitions have been on the rise, marking a shift from 10 years ago when the focus was on fighter jets.

"It's worldwide. The demand signal is coming in Europe, in the Pacific and in Centcom," he said, referring to the U.S. Central Command region, which includes the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The U.S. government is working hard to ensure faster processing of the arms deals. Reuters reported that U.S. companies and some foreign countries have expressed growing frustration in recent months regarding delays in arms sales approvals, arguing that the government has not expanded its capacity to process arms deals in accordance with the surging demand.

Rixey told Reuters that DSCA was keeping up with rising requests mainly through “process improvements and better training”. However, he warned that potential cuts in funding from Pentagon headquarters could pose a problem.

He pointed out that requests from countries that were "well-behaved" and protected U.S. technology were generally processed quickly, but sales to countries with weaker records on human rights and technology would take more time. He added that some munitions had also been sold from U.S. military reserves to ensure their faster availability to allies.

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