US approves possible military sales worth US$2.6 billion to South Korea

A US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
A US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US State Department has approved possible military sales worth US$2.6 billion (S$3.5 billion) to South Korea, including six P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft and 64 Patriot anti-ballistic missile weapons, the Pentagon said on Thursday (Sept 13).

The Boeing-made Poseidon aircraft, which are used for hunting submarines and conducting maritime reconnaissance, are worth up to US$2.1 billion, the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said.

The South Korean procurement agency Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) said in June it had decided to buy the P-8 Poseidon aircraft.

At the time, the contract was worth around US$1.71 billion. Thursday's DSCA authorisation included training, logistics, support equipment and services that could affect the price.

US ally South Korea is engaged in talks with North Korea on improving relations and the United States is involved in its own diplomatic efforts with North Korea on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Washington has put pressure on North Korea via sanctions to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

The Patriot anti-missile systems, made by Lockheed Martin , are to defend against ballistic missiles and will cost US$501 million, the Pentagon said.

The Republic of Korea requested 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missiles.

DSCA said the proposed sales, which were notified to Congress on Thursday, will help South Korea improve its missile defense capability and support US national security objectives by enhancing Seoul's naval capabilities.