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US backs proposed $6.5 bn sale of 32 F-35 Lockheed jets to Poland

REUTERS
WASHINGTON
The US State Department said on Wednesday it had approved a proposed sale of 32 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets worth $6.5 billion to Poland.
In April, the Pentagon told Congress it was considering selling the jets to the European nation, a NATO member, as well as Greece, Romania, Spain and Singapore.
The sale would boost Poland’s contributions to NATO and reduce the country’s dependence on Russian equipment, a State Department official said in a statement. During the Cold War, Poland, which shares borders with Russia and fellow NATO member Germany, belonged to the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.
The approval of the sale comes days after US Vice President Mike Pence visited Poland, a key ally in the region, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States has rolled out a “Buy American” plan that relaxed restrictions on sales and encouraged US officials to take a bigger role in increasing business overseas for the American weapons industry. However, the US began the process in April to remove Turkey from the multinational F-35 programme after Ankara said it would proceed in purchasing a Russian S-400 missile defence system that NATO officials say is not compatible with the F-35.
Congress was notified of the State Department’s approval on Tuesday, a State Department official said.

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