US State Dept approves possible sale of F-16 fighters, missiles to Philippines

A US Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at an airbase in Morocco, during the "African Lion" military exercise on June 14, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US State Department has approved the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets, as well as Sidewinder and Harpoon missiles, to the Philippines in three separate deals with a combined value of more than US$2.5 billion (S$3.3 billion), the Pentagon said on Thursday (June 24).

The Philippines is looking for a new multi-role fighter jet and is evaluating the F-16 and the SAAB Abs Gripen and others.

The government of the Philippines has requested to buy 10 F-16C Block 70/72 aircraft and two F-16D Block 70/72 aircraft made by Lockheed Martin.

The export of that arms package, which includes spares and training, is valued at up to US$2.43 billion, the Pentagon said.

Despite the State Department approval, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

Often during a competition, the State Department will approve the export of weapons before a winner has been named.

The Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency also notified Congress on Thursday of the possible sale of two missile packages to the Philippines.

One was for 12 Harpoon Air Launched Block II Missiles, two training missiles, spares and equipment made by Boeing and valued at up to US$120 million, the Pentagon said.

Another was for 24 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II tactical missiles, 24 training missiles and spare parts made by Raytheon Technologies and valued at up to US$42.4 million, the Pentagon said.

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