State Department approves $2.6B arms sales to South Korea

State Department approves $2.6B arms sales to South Korea

The State Department has approved two possible arms deals worth a combined $2.6 billion with South Korea, a Pentagon agency announced Thursday.

South Korea “is one of the closest allies in the INDOPACOM Theater,” the notices from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, referring to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The first sale, worth $2.1 billion, is for six P-8A Patrol Aircraft and related equipment.

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South Korea has been using P-3 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft for more than 25 years, according to the notice. Buying the new aircraft will allow the country to modernize and sustain its maritime surveillance capability for another 30 years, it adds.

“The proposed sale will support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing Korea’s naval capabilities to provide national defense and significantly contribute to coalition operations,” the notice said.

The second sale, worth $501 million, is for 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles used in the Patriot missile defense system.

South Korea “will use the Patriot missile system to improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats to regional stability,” the notice said. “The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the [South Korean] military to guard against hostile aggression and shield the allies who train and operate within South Korea's borders.”

Boeing is the prime contractor on the P-8 aircraft sale, and Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the Patriot sale.

The notices set off a 30-day clock for Congress to block the sale if it so chooses.

The planned upgrades to South Korea’s military equipment come as its president has been trying to revive stalled talks between the United States and North Korea to eliminate Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.