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US approves sale of military helicopters to Australia

Spectators watch as a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter belonging to the Australian Army conducts an exercise during the Australian International Airshow in Melbourne March 2, 2011. (File photo by Reuters)

The United States has approved the potential sale of military helicopters and equipment to Australia for an estimated cost of $2 billion.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that Australia had requested to buy 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and related equipment.

Approval by the US State Department at this point means Australia will get the weapons it had requested.

The principal contractor of the choppers will be US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp.

The US approval comes as Australia seeks to boost its military to stand against China's growing clout in the Indo-Pacific region.

Last year, Australia entered into a controversial deal to purchase nuclear submarines from the United States and Britain.

The three countries discussed a framework for a major security partnership pact known as AUKUS.

The US State Department in May also approved the sale of mobile rocket launchers to Australia, along with several weapons sales to its allies amounting to $3.1 billion.

The US and its allies have been boosting their military forces in the Indo-Pacific region to contain the growing power and influence of China in the region.

Military observers believe the new deal is part of the US' efforts to boost its allies militarily.

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