US decides to sell 12 attack helicopters to Australia

WASHINGTON (AFP): The US government has decided to sell 12 attack helicopters and an electronic warfare plane to Australia for more than a billion dollars, the State Department said Friday.

Australia, which recently signed a strategic defense alliance with the United States and Britain as a way to counter a rising China, had asked to acquire 12 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and accompanying equipment to the tune of 985 million dollars.

President Joe Biden’s administration has told Congress it decided to go ahead with this sale, the State Department said.

The helicopters are multi-mission aircraft that can be deployed on a ship for operations against surface vessels or submarines, but also for rescue, refueling or transport purposes.

Australia also asked to buy a Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare plane and the US agreed, the State Department said.

“Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific,” the State Department said.

“The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability,” it added.

Australia already has 24 Seahawk helicopters and around 10 Growler planes.

The three-way military pact announced last month by the US, Britain and Australia will see the latter acquire US nuclear-powered submarines and at the same time cancel a huge contract with France for conventional subs.