WASHINGTON — The U.S. has cleared a sale of up to nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for Japan, in a deal that could be worth as much as $3.14 billion.

The airborne early warning and control aircraft would represent an upgrade over the existing systems currently operated by Japan, and would work hand in hand with the Pacific nation’s incoming fleet of F-35 joint strike fighters to upgrade regional surveillance — a vital need for Tokyo given perceived threats from China and North Korea.

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force currently operates 13 older E-2C Hawkeyes and four E-767 aircraft in the role at its bases in Misawa and Hamamatsu, respectively. Japan is already under contract for four Hawkeye aircraft, with the most recent contract being signed last week; total procurement cost for Japan for the four E-2Ds is around $633 million.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States,” an announcement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated. “Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and is a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region. It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability.”

In addition to the aircraft themselves, the proposed sale would include 28 T56-A-427A engines (18 installed and 10 spares); 12 Multifunction Information Distribution System/Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS/JTRS) terminals (9 installed and 3 spares); 10 APY-9 Radars (9 installed and 1 spare), and other equipment.

Northrop Grumman would be the prime contractor, and there are no offsets required in the deal.

DSCA announcements do not mean sales are final. The announcement serves as notification to Congress about the potential sale, which can be vetoed by the Senate; once cleared, negotiations between the customer and contractor can lead to changed quantities or dollar figures from the original announcement.

However, the sale is expected to clear Congress easily, as arms sales for Japan enjoy widescale support between both Congress and the administration and the previous Hawkeye deals have had no issues.

Per DSCA figures released this summer, Tokyo has $19.6 billion in active foreign military sales cases, including the F-35, the Aegis combat system, the KC-46 refueling tanker, the Global Hawk and the Osprey MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and the Hawkeye.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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