The U.S. ranks as the leading supplier of defense aircraft for Asia-Pacific partners and allies, according to an Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) analysis of data provided by Avascent Analytics.
The U.S. will have sold about $79.2 billion worth of defense aircraft and related equipment, including both development and production costs, between fiscal 2009-2023 to Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, the analysis shows.
Italy ranks second with about $48.7 billion during that time, while India ranks third.
There is ample room for changes as some major programs, especially in the outlying years, have yet to be solidified and budgetary constraints or other issues could affect funding or schedule. For some countries, there is simply little known for certain about acquisition plans in the latter years of the analysis. For example, the defense aircraft supplier for about $218.2 billion worth of work during the analyzed time is unspecified or unknown.
Still, the higher percentage of U.S. investments for known suppliers in the region will help the nation as it continues its Pacific pivot of shifting more military resources back to the Asia Pacific as it withdraws forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operationally, that pivot has not impressed many regional analysts, who say the two biggest associated U.S. moves thus far — a commitment of more Marines to Australia and the Western Pacific deployment of Littoral Combat Ship () USS Freedom to Singapore — do not represent major displays of power.
U.S. Navy officials contend their “small-footprint” moves indicate more regional presence, which, they say, can be just as important as power in the Asia Pacific, as China reasserts itself as a political, maritime and military power there.
China was far eclipsed by the U.S. for Asia-Pacific defense aircraft programs, the analysis shows. China ranks eighth among known suppliers with $6.5 billion in programs.
Of course, that number does not include internal Chinese investments, and defense analysts say the Asian giant’s funding for its own military programs could be equal to the rest of the Asia-Pacific nations combined.