With Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on his way to Seoul for his first international trip since taking office, the U.S. Department of State today cleared $140 million worth of missiles for South Korea’s military, Defense News reports.
The sales are divided into two lots, each worth an estimated $70 million. The first lot covers 60 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-up-Round Missiles and six AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, containers, spares and missile support; the second lot covers 89 AGM-65G-2 Maverick missiles, missile containers and other related elements of support.
Raytheon is the principal contractor on the weapons, both of which are currently in use by South Korea. As with all clearances posted on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website, these sales need to be approved by Congress before entering final negotiations.
Mattis is en route to Seoul for his first international meeting since taking office Jan. 20., with the explicit goal of assuring South Korea and Japan, which he will visit later during the trip, that the U.S. remains committed to their security.
Clearing these weapon sales will certainly win Mattis some goodwill upon his arrival, but a State Department official said on background that the sales had been in the works for some time, with the request dating back to the Obama administration.
Today’s announcement brings the total of U.S. foreign weapon sales cleared by the State Department in fiscal year 2017 to $47.2 billion, keeping it on pace to shatter the 2012 sales record.