The US State Department approved the first possible arms sales under Joe Biden’s administration, which include missiles for Chile in an operation that involves some US $ 85 million.
According to information from Reuters, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on Friday of possible sales to Chile and NATO, the latter interested in communications equipment in a business that amounts to US $ 65 million.
Chile could buy up to 16 Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA missiles, support equipment, spare parts and training for $ 85 million, the Pentagon added. SM-2 missiles are considered medium range and are often used by ships against enemy aircraft.
The purchase of these missiles by Chile is linked to the incorporation into the Navy of two new frigates purchased from Australia, completed last year. These are the HMAS (FFG-05) Melbourne and the HMAS (FFG-06) Newcastle, baptized as Admiral Latorre and Captain Prat -the same names that their predecessors had written off because they had completed their useful life- and whose virtues lie precisely in anti-aircraft combat and where SM-2 missiles are essential.
In a post by LUN Last year, regarding the arrival of the Australian frigates, the academic from the Adolfo Ibáñez University, Fernando Wilson, commented that it is the “standard armament of the US Navy.” “These missiles allow the squad to have unique capabilities in South America when attacking the air zone through a ship. It has a 160 km range and is extremely fast. Besides attacking combat aircraft, it can also shoot down missiles ”, he explained in that publication.
Despite State Department approval, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded. Raytheon Technologies is the prime contractor for the weapons.
Moreover, the NATO Communications and Information Agency package includes 517 AN / PRC-158 Manpack UHF SATCOM radio systems for field communications, with an estimated cost of up to $ 65 million, including training and spare parts.
The sales are the first foreign military to be announced since US President Joe Biden took office, but since they take months to process, the genesis of the deals likely dates back to the Donald Trump administration.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has temporarily halted some pending arms sales to US allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for review, despite having been approved by the Trump administration.