WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Italy is planning to arm its MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles and has asked the United States for weapons, associated equipment and parts to do so.
The request was made through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program and has an overall value of $129.6 million.
Included in the request are six MQ-9 weaponization kits, 26 bomb racks, 156 AGM-114R2 Hellfire II missiles, 30 GBU-12 laser guided bombs, 30 GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, 30 GBU-49 enhanced laser guided bombs and 30 GBU-54 Laser JDAMs.
"Italy is a major political and economic power in NATO and a key democratic partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability around the world," the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency told Congress in its required notification of the possible sale. "Italy requests to arm its MQ-9 Reapers for three primary reasons: 1) to support and enhance burden sharing in NATO and coalition operations; 2) to increase operational flexibility; and 3) to increase the "survivability of Italian deployed forces."
The principal contractor would be General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc., maker of the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle.
The U.S. State Department has given approval for the sale, DSCA said.