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State Dept. approves F/A-18 midlife upgrade for Finland

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The U.S. State Department has approved the proposed sale of F/A-18 Mid-Life Upgrade Program support, equipment, and training to Finland.

The order, estimated to cost $156 million, includes 90 Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System variants in addition to software testing, flight testing, integration upgrades, and supporting equipment.

If the sale receives congressional approval, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency says the purchase will contribute to U.S. foreign policy objectives by promoting political and economic progress in Europe. The agency contends the additional equipment will not alter the balance of power in the region.

The F/A-18 is considered by the U.S. Navy to be the nation’s first strike fighter, and is designed for close air support in addition to air-to-air engagements. The aircraft was used heavily during Operation Desert Storm to take down enemy fighters and project power on the battlefield.

Principal contractors for the proposed sale include Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE North America, General Electric, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and various others.

UPI

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