US approves $7.2 billion military aircraft sales to NATO allies Germany, Slovakia, Spain and the UK

Sales include F-16 fighter jets, CH-47F Chinook helicopters and MQ-4C Triton drones, weapons and support

The U.S. State Department this week approved $7.2 billion military aircraft sales to NATO allies, including F-16 fighter jets and weapons to Slovakia, CH-47F Chinook helicopters to Spain, MQ-4C Triton drones to Germany and continuing support for the U.K.’s MQ-9 Reaper drones, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in multiple releases.

All four countries are NATO members. U.S. President Donald Trump has called on all NATO members to increase their defense spending to at least 2 percent of GDP to distribute the burden of paying for the alliance’s collective security.

Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle
The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system completes its inaugural cross-country ferry flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Triton took off from the Northrop Grumman Palmdale, California on September 17, 2014. Image: US Navy/Erik Hildebrandt

4 MQ-4C Triton drones for Germany – $2.5 billion

The proposed sale to Germany of four MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems plus other equipment and support for an estimated cost of $2.5 billion was approved on Wednesday, April 4, DSCA said in a Thursday release.

The sale will be a modified version of the U.S. Navy Triton configuration, and includes “unique engineering efforts required to support the integration, installation and functional platform compatibility testing of Germany’s indigenous payload.”

The proposed sale will significantly enhance “Germany’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and the overall collective security of the European Union and NATO,” the release said, adding that it will “close a crucial capability gap and will enhance bilateral and NATO interoperability.”

The release said Germany has requested to buy four MQ-4C Triton systems along with a number of other items including one Main Operating Base and one Forward Operating Base, 10 Kearfott Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System units, 10 LN-251 INS/GPS units, one spare engine, communication equipment, support equipment, as well as spare and repair parts, training, and other services.

The prime contractor will be Northrop Grumman, responsible for integration, installation and functional platform compatibility testing of the payload.

Located in Germany, Airbus will be the prime contractor “for the development and manufacturing, and will be responsible for the functional test, end-to-end test and installed performance,” the release said.

F-16 Fighting Falcon
A US Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon above Hill Air Force Base, Utah, August 17, 2017. Image: Scott Wolff

14 F-16V fighter jets plus weapons for Slovakia – $2.91 billion

The proposed sale to Slovakia of F-16 Viper plus weapons and other equipment and support for an estimated cost of $2.91 billion was approved on Tuesday, April 3, DSCA said in a Wednesday release.

The sale of F-16s will enable Slovakia to retire its current fleet of Russian-built MiG-29s that “are not interoperable with U.S forces or regional allies” and “fourth generation fighter aircraft capability that is interoperable with the United States and NATO,” the release said.

The proposed sale includes 14 F-16 Block 70/72 V configuration aircraft and up to 16 F-16 F110 General Electric or F100 Pratt & Whitney engines.

Among an extensive list, equipment on the aircraft will include APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars; Modular Mission Computers; LINK-16 (MIDS-JTRS) secure communication systems; Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems; AN/ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management Systems; and AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites.

The sale also includes Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS), a flight simulator, spare and repair parts, training, and other services.

All the aircraft will be fitted with M61 A1 Vulcan 20mm Guns and AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispensers, but only six AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Pods are included in the sale.

Air-to-air missiles and guided bombs

The proposed sale lists an extensive range of air-to-air missiles and bombs, including 30 AIM-120C7 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; 100 AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to­ air missiles; 224 control and airfoil groups for GBU-12 Paveway II 500 lb Guided Bomb Kits; 20 Enhanced Computer Control Groups for Enhanced Paveway II (GBU-49); 150 KMU-572F/B Guidance Kits for Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) 500 lb Guided Bomb (GBU-38); as well as 400 bomb bodies and fuzes.

The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin.

CH-47F Chinook helicopter Afghanistan
A US Army Task Force Brawler CH-47F Chinook during a training exercise with a Guardian Angel team assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 26, 2018. Image: US Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for Spain – $1.3 billion

The proposed sale to Spain of 17 CH-47F heavy lift helicopters plus other equipment and support for an estimated cost of $1.3 billion was approved on Wednesday, April 4, DSCA said in a Wednesday release.

The sale includes 17 CH-47F cargo helicopters with customer-unique modifications, along with 21AN/AAR-57A(V)8 Common Missile Warning Systems and 42 Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System.

Also included are equipment, hardware and services required to implement the modifications, along with communication, survivability and navigation equipment, ground support equipment, airframe and engine spare parts, training, and other logistics and program support.

The principal contractor will be Boeing Helicopter Company.

MQ-9 Reaper drone
An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles over southern Afghanistan. Image: US Air Force/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt

MQ-9 Reaper drone support for the UK – $500 million

The proposed sale to the UK of “defense articles and services for continued follow-on support to the MQ-9 Reaper program” for an estimated cost of $1.3 billion was approved on Wednesday, April 4, DSCA said in a Wednesday release.

“The proposed sale is required to maintain the operational readiness of the United Kingdom’s MQ-9 Reaper program and enable the United Kingdom to continue to operate its fleet of MQ-9 Reapers in support of coalition operations,” the release said.

British forces adopted the Reaper in order to work alongside their U.S. allies in Afghanistan, but the Royal Air Force’s new Protector medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs are due to replace its Reaper drones between 2018 and 2030.

The sale includes contractor logistics support, manpower and base support, maintenance and equipment, minor modifications and upgrades, software support, as well as U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical support.

The prime contractors will be General Atomics and MAG Aerospace.

With reporting from AFP

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