WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- The North African country of Tunisia has been approved by the State Department to purchase major components and other equipment for Kiowa helicopters.
Approval for the possible sale was reported to Congress in a notification from the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which manages the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of Tunisia which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the North African region," DSCA said. "The United States is committed to the security of Tunisia, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Tunisia to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability."
The Kiowa Warrior OH-58D is a small, armed reconnaissance helicopter made by Bell. The U.S. Army introduced them into service in 1969. Most of the aircraft are now out of U.S. military service.
Tunisia was approved earlier for procurement of 24 Kiowa airframes under the U.S. Excess Defense Articles Program. The articles now being sought are to equip those aircraft and include engines, navigation systems, missiles and rockets, guns, communications gear and other equipment.
The new sales deal -- including support services -- would be worth $100.8 million.
"The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, along with the parts, systems, and support ... will improve Tunisia's capability to conduct border security and combat operations against terrorists -- including Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Libya, and Ansar al-Sharia, Tunisia," DSCA said. "These helicopters will further modernize the Tunisian armed forces and increase its interoperability with U.S. forces and other coalition partners."