by Richard Tomkins
Washington (UPI) May 31, 2016
Australia has received State Department approval for acquisition of as many as 80 SM-2 missiles through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which manages the program, said the possible deal carries a total value of $302 million and would include vertical launch canisters for the SM-2 Block IIIB missiles, contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services.
"It is vital to U.S. national interests that Australia develops and maintains a strong and ready self-defense capability," the agency said in its notification to Congress. "This sale is consistent with U.S. regional objectives."
Australia plans to use the missiles for anti-air warfare test firings during Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials for the Royal Australian Navy's three new Air Warfare Destroyers now under construction.
The SM-2 Block IIIB missiles, combined with the destroyers' Aegis combat systems, will provide enhanced area defense capabilities over critical Southeast Asian air and sea lines of communication.
The principal contractors would be Raytheon and BAE Systems.
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