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U.S. approves sale of jets and Patriot missiles to Switzerland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of two types of fighter jets and several Patriot missile systems to Switzerland as the country modernizes its military, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

On Sunday, voters of the neutral nation approved a referendum allowing the government to spend $6.46 billion on new jets as it seeks to replace its aging fleet of 30 F/A-18 Hornets, which will go out of service in 2030.

The Swiss government plans to decide next year among the Eurofighter from Airbus, the Rafale from France’s Dassault, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, or the Lockheed Martin F35-A.

In a move that would ease the way for the export of either of the U.S. jets, the State Department approved the potential sale of 40 F-35A’s spare parts, munitions and training for a total estimates cost of $6.58 billion.

The State Department also approved the potential sale of 40 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jets, spares munitions and training as well as related equipment for an estimated cost of $7.45 billion.

The notification process alerts the U.S. Congress that a sale to a foreign country has been approved, but it does not indicate that a contract has been signed or negotiations have concluded.

In addition, the State Department approved the potential sale of five Patriot missile systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.2 billion. Raytheon Technologies Corp makes the Patriot system.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler

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