US Backs Sale of Standoff Missiles to Poland


The U.S. supports the sale of standoff missiles to Poland, the Defense Department said in a notice to Congress on Monday.

The State Department has approved the possible $200 million foreign military sale to supply the Polish government with the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles Extended Range, or JASSM-ER, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., according to an announcement from the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

In addition to the U.S. Air Force (which this fall received its 2,000th munition), the weapon is used by the governments of Finland and Australia. Poland is its third international customer.

The Polish military wants to purchase 70 of the projectiles, a semi-stealthy GPS-guided cruise missile armed with a penetrating blast-fragmentation warhead designed to strike targets from as far away as 620 miles, according to the release and the manufacturer's website.

The Polish air force plans to outfit the munition onto its F-16C/D fighter jets. In addition to the standoff missiles, the deal calls for flight test vehicles, simulators, spare parts and other equipment.

In a foreign military sale, known in military parlance as FMS, the U.S. buys weapons or equipment on behalf of a foreign government. Countries approved to participate in the program may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs. The release doesn't specify which government would pay for the transaction.

"The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and the national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally," it states. "Poland continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Central Europe."

More specifically, the deal "will improve Poland's capability to meet current and future threats of enemy air and ground weapons systems," the release states. "Poland will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. These weapon and capabilities upgrades will allow Poland to strengthen its air-to-ground strike capabilities and increase its contribution to future NATO operations."

Poland has recently hosted major joint military training exercises involving U.S. and NATO troops as part of a plan to reassure eastern European nations concerned by Russian military activity in the region.

The U.S. military recently completed the largest single shipment of ammunition for Army and Air Force units in Europe in more than two decades.

Some 4,000 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, are scheduled to arrive in Europe early next year, marking the beginning of a continuous rotation of U.S.-based armored brigades to the continent. The brigade will consolidate in Poland before deploying its units across seven countries from Estonia to Bulgaria beginning in February.

--Matthew Cox contributed to this report.

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