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Iran Press TV

US approves sale of 12 attack helicopters to Australia amid AUKUS row

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 10 October 2021 6:42 AM

The United States has approved the sale of a dozen attack helicopters and an electronic warfare plane to Australia, as part of a deal worth around $1.3 billion.

The State Department said on Friday it had approved the sale of 12 Sikorsky Romeo Seahawk helicopters to Australia, which is "one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific."

The deal, running from 2025 to 2031, is valued at $1 billion to $1.5 billion.

Australia also asked to purchase a Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare plane and the US agreed, it said.

"The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region," said the department.

"It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability," it added.

The Sikorsky Romeo Seahawk helicopter is a multi-mission aircraft that can be deployed on a ship for operations against surface vessels or submarines, but also for rescue, refueling or transport purposes.

Australia already has 24 Seahawk helicopters and around 10 Growler planes.

The deal comes as part of a recently formed alliance between Australia, the US and Britain, dubbed AUKUS.

The new security pact, announced last month, effectively scuttled a previous $40-billion deal between France and Australia to supply French-designed conventional diesel-electric submarines to the Australians.

Australia instead opted for US nuclear-powered submarines as part of the alliance.

Australia will become only the second country after the United Kingdom to be given access to the US nuclear technology to build nuclear-powered submarines.

The alliance instantly drew condemnation from China, Russia, and France.

Australian officials lied about submarine deal: French envoy

Reacting to the controversial submarine deal between Washington and Canberra, the French ambassador to Australia said Australian officials lied to his face about the contract.

"The way you treat your allies does resonate in the region," Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault said on Saturday. "I don't understand how it was possible to commit such a lie," he said of the Australian officials he worked with.

"I don't understand how people, several of whom I know, were capable of lying to me … face to face for 18 months," he said, adding that "the logic of confrontation is not a good one for the peace and stability of the region."

Thebault said that France was determined to protect its interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

Paris says the submarined deal trampled upon long-standing alliances, and that its interests in the Pacific — where it has two million citizens in French territories and 7,000 military troops — were ignored.

France, a NATO partner, accused US President Joe Biden of stabbing it in the back by crafting the secret submarine deal with Canberra.

The partnership agreement has also been viewed as an effort to counter China and Russia.

Many observers have also warned that the AUKUS alliance could lead to a situation very similar to the US-Russian arms race during the Cold War.

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