The U.S. Defense Department in the past week notified Congress of several international arms sales potentially worth almost $2 billion.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees so-called foreign military sales, issued six notifications with a combined value of $1.71 billion for an assortment of equipment, from F/A-18 fighter jet upgrades for Switzerland to UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for Austria to anti-tank missiles for Saudi Arabia.
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, according to the agency's website.
Possible deals with Saudi Arabia accounted more more than half the total amount for the week. The oil-rich Kingdom has two pending agreements -- one for $900 million and another for $170 million -- to buy tens of thousands of anti-tank missiles made by Raytheon Co., the world's largest missile maker, according to the notifications.
The country wants to purchase a total of 15,700 so-called tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missiles, including 10,748 BGM-71 TOW 2As and 4,952 BGM-71 TOW 2Bs, as well as containers and associated equipment, according to the Dec. 5 announcements.
The projectiles were developed in the 1960s by the former Hughes Aircraft Co. The latest versions made by Raytheon are designed to not only cripple tanks, but also fortified bunkers, according to the company. They're used by 40 countries around the world and can be found on numerous platforms, from Humvee utility trucks to AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, according to Raytheon.
In other possible deals, Switzerland plans to spend $200 million on F/A-18 Hornet engine upgrades, parts and services; South Korea expects to buy 14 CH-47D Chinook helicopters and associated equipment in a deal valued at $151 million; Kuwait plans to spend $150 million on F/A-18 Hornet engineering services and equipment; and Austria expects to buy three UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and related equipment for $137 million.