US Congressional review requirement waived for sale of 155mm missiles to Israel

The potential sale of 155mm ammunition to Israel was approved on December 29, 2023 by the US Secretary of State without congressional review under the Foreign Military Sales Act, the second waiver of government oversight since the October 7 attacks.

Around the world, stockpiles of 155mm ammunition are under constant pressure after nearly two years of conflict in Ukraine, and nations rally to procure additional supplies. The supply of 155mm ammunition under this sale to Israel will come from the US Army stockpile.

Foreign military sales to Israel of major defense equipment (MDE) worth more than $25 million or any defense items or services of $100 million or more require congressional review. The sale of 155mm ammunition approved on December 29, 2023 was for a $147.5 million contract, an update to an earlier $96.5 million contract that had not been announced as a foreign military sale case by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency ( DCSA).

The December 29 contract is the second proposed sale to Israel to waive congressional review requirements under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act. Following the Secretary of State’s detailed justification to Congress that a state of emergency was in progress in Israel, DCSA announced on December 9 that the State Department had approved sale covering 13,981 120mm high explosive tank rounds worth $106.5 million.

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While details of the latest deal for 155mm ammunition have not been released, DCSA’s announcement from Dec. 29 describes the material already delivered under the previous version of the $96.5 million contract. No previous announcement of the original $96.5 million contract appeared on DCSA’s website as a case of foreign military sales.

This proposed sale covered 4,792 rounds of M107 155mm artillery ammunition, recorded as Major Defense Equipment (MDE), and for 52,229 rounds of M795 155mm artillery ammunition, recorded as non-MDE, as well as 30,000 M4s also recorded as non-propellant charges , MDE.

The M795 ammunition is a more modern and effective projectile compared to the M107, with improvements in range, lethality and explosive payload, and is considered more suitable for current military requirements.

However, classification between MDE and non-MDE depends on the presence of non-recurring research and development costs of more than $50 million or total production costs of more than $200 million. A US State Department official stated that as versions of the M107 have been in production for much longer than the M795, more opportunities to pool production costs have resulted in it crossing the cost threshold to qualify as an MDE.

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