Tuesday, April 04, 2006

United States To Sell Military Planes To Australia

The US Defence Department has approved a possible sale of up to four Boeing C-17 cargo planes and associated equipment to Australia in a deal worth up to $US2 billion. The Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the Australia government had requested the sale of the C-17s, up to 18 F-177 engines made by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, and up to four AN/AAQ-24 infrared countermeasures systems made by Northrop Grumman. Politicians now have 30 days to reject the proposed sale, which also includes night vision goggles and assorted other equipment, but Congress has rarely acted to block a sale.
Boeing C-17
DCSA, which oversees major arms sales, said the sale would give Australia a heavy airlift capability, which it currently relies on the US air force or contract carriers using Russian aircraft to provide. "The C-17 will greatly improve Australia's capability to rapidly deploy in support of global coalition operations and will also greatly enhance its ability to lead regional humanitarian/peacekeeping operations," the agency said. It said the proposed agreement would likely include offset agreements with Australian companies, but said those would be determined in negotiations between Australia and the contractors during detailed discussions if the sale is approved. The proposed sale is welcome news for Chicago-based Boeing, which has been lobbying Congress to continue production of C-17 cargo planes beyond the current cap of 180 set by the US air force, which would mean shutting down the production line in fiscal year 2008.