By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 7:47 EDT

US arms transfers to other countries nearly tripled last year to $66.3 billion, giving America a market share of nearly 80 percent, government researchers said Monday.

The Congressional Research Service said the US figure for 2011 was the largest for a single year in the history of the arms export program.

While huge, the number may be something of a one off, as it includes a huge one-off deal with Saudi Arabia to the tune of $29.4 billion.

This features 84 F-15 fighter bombers, upgrades to its existing fleet of 70 such aircraft and the sale of 178 helicopters.

Despite a sluggish world economy, global arms sales nearly doubled in 2011 to $85.3 billion, the report said.

After the United States came Russia, with $4.8 billion in transfers, and then France, with $4.4 billion.

Besides Saudi Arabia, major US clients included the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Oman, India and Thailand, the report added.