US approves sale of 12 military helicopters to Australia in $985 million deal
The US State Department has approved the potential sale of 12 MH-60R multi-mission Sea Hawk helicopters to Australia in a deal valued at $985 million, the Pentagon said on Friday.
“This proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay,” the Pentagon said.
The sale comes at a sensitive time after France’s outrage last month over the US submarine’s pact with Australia cost Paris a multi-billion-dollar deal with Canberra.
The US and Britain announced on September 15 a new Indo-Pacific security alliance that will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which is widely seen as a move to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
Australia then scrapped a 2016 multi-billion-dollar contract with France to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
The helicopters sale also follows a string of Australian military equipment purchases from the US this year.
In June, Australia bought 29 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters valued at up to $3.5 billion. Prior to that, in April, Australia bought 12 MQ-9B drones and related equipment for about $1.6 billion, $1.6 billion in tanks and heavy armored combat vehicles and four CH-47F cargo helicopters for as much as $259 million.