U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command officials said the defense industry has seen a boost in foreign military sales (FMS) as allied nations and Middle Eastern countries look to modernize Cold War-era weapons and systems, service officials said March 8 at the Sea Air Space Exposition at National Harbor, Md.
NAVSEA’s FMS program, which currently manages as many as 793 active cases valued at about $20.4 billion, officials said.
“Our international partners who have indigenous platforms that they either built there or bought from another country and they want to modernize. They may have Cold War-era weapons systems with sensors on them and they want to modernize them and keep the platforms around for another 20 years,” said Matthew Sermon, the deputy program manager for PMS 326, the Navy's FMS agency.
Pentagon leaders have promised the defense industry to work with the State Department to streamline what has often been described as a stodgy foreign military sales process.
U.S. foreign military sales more than doubled from $34 billion in 2011 to a record $69 billion last year in the effort to boost the ability of allies to counter regional and terror threats on their own, said Thomas Kelly, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, in January.
“Countries increasingly want to partner with the U.S.” for their own internal security and to counter terrorism and rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, Kelly said. “More and more countries want to cooperate” and the cooperation was underlined by the increased interest from partner states in U.S. military systems, Kelly said.
The large example of such FMS programs is the U.S.-engineered Egyptian Navy Fast Missile Craft, a 210-foot long ship built with numerous technologies and weapon systems, Sermon said.
The 63-meter Egyptian Navy Fast Missile Craft carries a 76mm Super Rapid Gun, Harpoon Block II missiles, MK49 Rolling Airframe Missiles, and the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) Block 1B. It can reach speeds of greater than 34 knots and carry a crew of up to 40 sailors, according to NAVSEA.
“It is a highly capable platform,” Sermon said, citing a number of U.S. engineered weapons systems on board the ship, such as the Phalanx Close-In-Weapons-Systems (CIWS).
In addition to upgrading, maintaining and providing ships and technology platforms, the NAVSEA FMS office is also providing international customers with a range of small boats such as off-shore support vessels and patrol craft of various shapes, sizes and complexities, Sermon explained.
The NAVSEA FMS office is also managing foreign military sales cases that include the Rolling Airframe Missile, Aegis radar and 110 Standard Missile cases, said Linda Roberts, the deputy program manager for Integrated Warfare Systems 4.0.