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    Pentagon Using US Middlemen, Boilerplate Contracts to Speed Foreign Arms Sales

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    The Pentagon is using a loophole to circumvent the drawn-out process of selling weapons to foreign countries in an effort to expedite deliveries to US allies like Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Romania.

    New "pilot authorities" granted to the Pentagon in 2017's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are revolutionizing how the United States sells arms, shaving "years" off the process, Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said Wednesday at the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference.

    The new authorities work by allowing the Pentagon to write off foreign arms sales as domestic contracts — with provisions for exports, according to Lord.

    "We have a whole variety of specific programs where we are focused on applying these authorities: Patriot Missiles for Romania, Global Hawk for Japan, THAAD for Saudi Arabia and TOW for multiple foreign military sales partners," she said, according to Defense One. 

    Asked about US arms deals with Ukraine, Lord said "we have quite a focus on Ukraine. I've been talking with policy [officials] just over the last week about trying to find an individual who can work directly with Ukraine to help them with their acquisition process on an intermittent basis."

    Lord is pushing to cut down on the time it takes to sell weapons by 50 percent, from about two and a half years to just one year.

    Billing what will ultimately be foreign sales as domestic deals also allows the US to use cookie cutter contracts wherein the US Department of Defense can "fill in the blank with the country, the price, and any unique requirements," Lord said. "When we have an international partner that wants to buy a US system, we don't need to spend weeks and months writing another."

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    Tags:
    weapons sales, arms sales, Defense Department
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