The State Department on Friday approved two potential major arms deals for NATO members Estonia and Norway, that combined are worth over $1.4 billion.
The potential deal approved for Norway is for AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and related equipment worth about $950 million. According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the missiles will be used by Norway’s fleet of US-made F-35s.
The DSCA said that the sale will allow Norway’s F-35 fleet to “fulfill NATO missions and meet US European Command’s goal of combined air operations interoperability and standardization between Norwegian and US forces.”
The principal contractor for the Norway deal is Raytheon Missile Systems Company, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, where Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin served as a board member before taking his post at the Pentagon.
The deal approved for Estonia is for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and related equipment, a sale that’s worth up to $500 million. HIMARS are a truck-mounted multiple rocket launch system that the US recently started sending to Ukraine, which marked an escalation in Western military aid to the country.
Estonia shares a border with Russia, and the country’s defense minister said Sunday that the HIMARS purchase would make Moscow “nervous.” Kusti Salm, the Secretary General of Estonia’s Defense Ministry, said the purchase would “hike the price” of Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
Salm said the HIMARS would make it harder for Russia to attack Estonia. “It will allow us to affect the enemy in their own territory. This means [their] supply routes, command centers, and everything else would be within our range,” he said.
The principal contractor for the HIMARS sale is Lockheed Martin. The two arms sales are an example of how the Western response to Russia’s war in Ukraine is a boon for US weapons makers as European NATO countries are increasing their military spending.