State Department clears $3B in weapons sales for Egypt, Australia, Netherlands

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A weapon is launched from a US Army HIMARS launcher truck. (US Army)

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has cleared a trio of major weapon sales, potentially worth up to $3.1 billion.

The three potential deals — CH-47F Chinook Helicopters for Egypt, HIMARS Launchers for Australia, and AIM-9X missiles for the Dutch — were announced Thursday afternoon by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Sales announcements are not final; Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases announced like these have been approved by the executive branch, and now Congress must weigh in or do nothing. Should the Hill not object, the quantities and dollar values in the deals can change during negotiations with industry.

Egypt’s request covers 23 CH-47F Chinook helicopters, along with 56 T-55-GA-714A engines, 52 Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS) Inertial Navigation Systems, 29 AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems and 75 M-240 machine guns. Other equipment would include radios, navigation assistance, and cargo equipment. Work will primarily be done at Boeing’s factory in Philadelphia.

The proposed sale “will improve Egypt’s heavy lift capability,” according to DSCA. “Egypt will use this enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. Egypt will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and services into its armed forces.”

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This is the second FMS deal for Egypt approved by State this month, following a May 19 announcement about a $691 million potential sale of TOW 2A missiles. Overall, the Biden administration has cleared eight FMS requests for Egypt, worth an estimated $6.63 billion.

Australia’s request covers 20 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher. Per DSCA, as part of the package the Australians are seeking 30 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS); 30 Alternative Warhead (AW) Pods with Insensitive Munitions Propulsion Systems (IMPS); 30 M31A2 GMLRS Unitary (GMLRS-U) High Explosive Pods with IMPS; 30 XM403 Extended Range (ER)-GMLRS AW Pods; 30 EM404 ER GMLRS Unitary Pods; and 10 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

“The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats, and will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and other allied forces,” the DSCA announcement reads. “Australia will use the capability to strengthen its homeland defense and provide greater security for its critical infrastructure.” Work will primarily be done by Lockheed Martin, L3 Harris Corp and UK-based Chelton, Inc.

Given the long tail of FMS cases, the Australians have likely been waiting a while for the system to be cleared. But the announcement comes after President Joe Biden met with newly-elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and as the US seeks to strengthen military ties with Australia.

The Dutch deal is actually an FMS modification, not a brand new case. The Netherlands is seeking to increase its missile buy, by procuring  95 AIM-9X Block II Tactical Missiles, 43 AIM-9X Block II+ Tactical Missiles, and one AIM-9X Block II+ Tactical Guidance Unit. The Netherlands currently operates a fleet of F-16 aircraft, and has a growing fleet of F-35 jets. Work will be done at Raytheon’s Arizona facility.





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