Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department approved the sale of two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Croatia, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced.
The deal, which includes spare engines, radio equipment, on-board weapons and training, is valued at $115 million, and requires the expected approval of the U.S. Congress.
The helicopters will allow Croatia to increase its ability to provide border security, counterterrorism, search and rescue, medical, lift and combat support, DSCA said in a statement on Wednesday.
A statement on Wednesday by the Croatian Defense Ministry referred to the proposed sale as a "donation of a brand new weapons system," unlike previously used Kiowa Warrior helicopters and MRAP [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected] vehicles already received from the U.S. government. It was reported in 2018 that the helicopters would arrive in 2020, although their value was identified as $50 million.
The United States donated military equipment to the Croatian army from 2010 to 2016 valued at $500 million, and over 1,000 Croatian soldiers have been trained in the United States, in an effort to modernize Croatian defense as it moves to obtain and use Western technology.
"These UH-60 helicopters will allow for interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces in rapid response to a variety of missions and quick positioning of troops with minimal helicopter assets," the agency said. "Croatia intends to use these defense articles and services to modernize its armed forces and expand its existing army architecture in its efforts to provide multi-mission support in the region as well as combat terrorist threats."
Croatia has been a NATO member state since 2009. The principal contractors of the helicopters and related equipment in the sale are Sikorsky Aircraft Co. and General Electric Aircraft Co.
The Black Hawk is regarded as the U.S. Army's workhorse tactical helicopter, used for air assault, air cavalry, and aeromedical evacuation units. It is designed to carry 11 air assault troops, as well as armaments and specialized equipment, and variations of the aircraft offer command and control, electronic warfare, and special operations platforms.
About 4,000 have been manufactured since its first deployment in 1978. UH-60s are in the fleets of 10 countries.