The U.S. Department of State sanctioned the sale of 200 Hellfire air-to-ground (AGM) missiles to France, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said Wednesday. Related military gear such as conversion kits, blast fragmentation sleeves, and installation kits and containers, were also approved.
France requested the military equipment for its Tiger attack helicopter and will use it against insurgents in Mali and North Africa, the DSCA said, in a statement. The deal is estimated to be worth $30 million, according to the statement. France launched an operation, involving hundreds of its troops, in Mali in 2013 to tackle Islamic extremists.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the capability of a NATO ally. … The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the DSCA stated. “There is no principal contractor for this sale as the missiles are coming from U.S. Army stock. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.”
North Africa is increasingly becoming a haven for Islamic insurgents, including those belonging to the Islamic State group, as airstrikes by NATO allies, and recently Russia, are driving them out of Syria and Iraq.