U.S. State Department approves first potential weapons sales under Biden, says Pentagon

Washington (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department has approved the first potential sales of weapons under the Biden administration, including communications equipment for NATO and missiles for Chile, in deals with a combined value up to $150 million, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The sales are the first foreign military sales to be announced since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, but since sales take months to process, the genesis of the deals likely dates back to the Trump administration.

Since taking office, the Biden administration temporarily paused some pending arms sales to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in order to review them, despite having been approved by the Trump administration.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sales to Chile and NATO on Friday.

The NATO Communications and Information Agency package includes 517 AN/PRC-158 Manpack UHF SATCOM radio systems for field communications, with an estimated cost of up to $65 million, including training and spares.

Separately, Chile could buy as many as 16 Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA missiles, supporting equipment, spares and training for $85 million, the Pentagon said. SM-2 missiles are considered medium-range and are often used by ships against enemy aircraft.

Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

Raytheon Technologies was the prime contractor for the weapons.