WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department on Tuesday cleared more than $4.2 billion worth of potential weapons sales for Japan, South Korea, Hungary, Lithuania and Denmark.
The sales, announced on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website, would bring the total Foreign Military Sales cases cleared by the State Department to $51.9 billion with roughly five weeks to go in fiscal 2020.
The largest dollar value for the package comes from Japan’s purchase of 73 SM-3 Block IIA missiles, with an estimated price tag of $3.295 billion. This marks the third purchase of SM-3 missiles announced for Japan this fiscal year, following November ($561 million) and April ($1.15 billion). The Block IIA is jointly developed by Japan and the United States, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in charge of some components of the missile.
The Block IIA will add a larger diameter kill vehicle that is more maneuverable compared to earlier versions, and will come with another sensor/discrimination upgrade, which will enable it to better defend against intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Japan already has the earlier SM-3 Block IB missile in service, with an order for 56 missiles earlier this year being its third and largest order of the SM-3 until this latest request.
The missiles will go on board six Aegis destroyers in service capable of defending against ballistic missiles, with two more such ships set to enter service in the next few years. Separate from this potential deal, Japan is acquiring the land-based Aegis Ashore system to improve its ability to defend against ballistic missiles.
Hungary is seeking to spend an estimated $500 million on 180 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles. The prime contractor will be Raytheon. This marks the third AIM-120 announcement of the fiscal year, following two previous packages for Japan. The weapons will be used to support Hungary’s fleet of Gripen fighter jets.
Denmark wants to spend $200 million on nine AN/AQS-22 airborne low-frequency sonar systems and 600 AN/SSQ-36/53/62 sonobuoys to improve its anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The announcement comes months after the U.S. Defense Department began seeking ways to fund sonobuoy production in light of the increased demand from both American and allied forces.
Lithuania has requested 500 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles with associated equipment, with an estimated price tag of $170.8 million. The prime contractor will be Oshkosh Defense.
South Korea plans to buy 31 MK 54 All-Up-Round lightweight torpedoes for an estimated $72 million. Raytheon is the primary contractor for the weapon. The purchase would come with support equipment such as recoverable training torpedoes. The weapons are intended for its fleet of P-8 submarine-hunter aircraft. The Mk 54 is specifically designed to be effective in shallower, littoral waters against conventionally powered subs.
The dual announcements of sales to Japan and South Korea notably come at a delicate time, as military relations between the two nations are strained.
As with all DSCA announcements, the sales must first be cleared by Congress before entering contract negotiations, during which quantities and dollar figures can change.
Mike Yeo in Melbourne, Australia, contributed to this report.
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.