WASHINGTON – The State Department on Thursday approved a $3 billion medium-range missile defense system sale for Kuwait.

The move paves the way for Kuwait to get the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS. The weapon is manufactured as a joint venture between U.S.-based Raytheon Technologies and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, though the principal contractor on the Kuwait sale is Raytheon. The United States itself uses NASAMS to protect the airspace over the White House and the Pentagon.

Both Hungary and India have also purchased NASAMS to defend their territories in recent years.

The Pentagon announced in July that it would purchase NASAMS for Kyiv with $770 million in aid from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. The long-term goal is wean Ukrainians off the Soviet-era air defense systems that it has so far used to repel Russian attacks. Still, it will take several months or years for Kongsberg Defence and Raytheon to manufacture the system for Ukraine.

While the estimated cost for Kuwait comes in at $3 billion, the final dollar amount is subject to change until the Defense Department finalizes a contract with Raytheon. The State Department’s approval kicks off the 30-day congressional review period.

Congress has advanced legislation in recent months to hasten the slow-moving delivery of weapons to customers across the world, although the efforts so far have largely centered on a $14 billion backlog of foreign military sales to Taiwan as the United States seeks to deter China from retaking the island by force.

Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.

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