The State Department has approved the potential sale to Japan of up to nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft for $3.1 billion, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced today.
Japan is the only foreign customer on the U.S. Navy's Advanced Hawkeye program, having been first approved to purchase the Northrop Grumman-made aircraft in 2015.
Last year, President Trump said he supported Japan and South Korea buying "substantially increased" amounts of U.S. weapons due to North Korea's long-range missile tests.
While the tensions on the Korean Peninsula have since relaxed, Japan is still seen as a key partner in the newly re-branded Indo-Pacific region, where the U.S. Defense Department says it is in strategic competition with China.
"Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and is a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region," the DSCA announcement reads. "It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability."