The US State Department has cleared a potential sale of weapons to Australia to enhance its F-35A Joint Strike Fighter for an estimated cost of $815 million.
The deal primarily centers around selling the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II) to Australia.
The proposed sale would cover up to 3,900 SDB II weapons, up to 30 GBU-53/B Guided Test Vehicles (GTV) and up to 60 GBU-53/B Captive Carry Reliability Trainers (CCRT). The deal would also include maintenance, transportation and support for the weapons.
The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona.
In a statement, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, "The proposed sale of SDB II supports and complements the ongoing sale of the F-35A to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This capability will strengthen combined operations, particularly air to ground strike missions in all-weather conditions, and increase interoperability between the United States and the RAAF. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.
"The proposed sale will improve Australia’s F-35 survivability and will enhance its capability to deter global threats, strengthen its homeland defence and co-operate in coalition defense initiatives."
Australia is procuring 72 JSFs with the first planned for delivery in 2018 and entering service in 2020.
The notice of the potential sale does not mean the sale has been concluded.