WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department on Tuesday cleared a pair of potential arms sales, one each to Thailand and Qatar.
The two sales have a combined price tag of $486 million, according to the announcements posted on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. DSCA notifications are not final sales; if allowed by Congress, the sales enter negotiations during which quantities and dollar figures can shift.
Thailand requested the purchase of eight AH-6i light-attack reconnaissance helicopters, with an estimated cost of $400 million. The Boeing-made rotorcraft will be used to replace Thailand’s older fleet of seven AH-1F Cobra helicopters.
“The proposed sale of the AH-6i helicopter will improve the Royal Thai Army’s (RTA) light attack capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the DSCA announcement read. “As part of a broader military modernization effort, these AH-6i helicopters will provide light attack reconnaissance for close air support to special operations forces, Stryker infantry soldiers and border guard units.”
In addition to the helicopters, the order would include 50 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, 200 advanced precision kill weapon system rockets, 10 M134 Miniguns, 10 M260 rocket launchers, 10 M299 Longbow Hellfire launchers and an assortment of other equipment.
Qatar requested to buy two of AN/AAQ-24(V)N large aircraft infrared countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems and related equipment, with an estimated cost of $86 million. Those systems, produced by Northrop Grumman, will be fitted onto a pair of 747-800 head-of-state aircraft.
Included in the package are 12 Guardian Laser Turret Assemblies, seven LAIRCM system processor replacements, 23 missile warning sensors and a variety of back-end support equipment. The sale “will facilitate a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats,” per the DSCA.
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.