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Duterte approves U.S. assault rifle deal for Philippine police
by Ryan Maass
Manila (UPI) Nov 14, 2016

L-3 to deliver soldier modernization technology to Australian army
New York (UPI) Nov 14, 2016 - L-3 Communications has signed a $208 million contract to deliver soldier modernization technology to the Australian army.

The five-year contract includes the delivery of specialized binocular night vision goggles and additional supporting equipment such as image identification technology, lightweight laser rangefinders, and white phosphor image intensification devices.

"This new business award demonstrates the growing demand for our highly advanced, capable products and solutions in a key international market," L-3 CEO Michael T. Strianese said in a press release. "L-3's ability to deliver a collaborative, one-company solution to meet a wide range of requirements is increasingly important to our customers, both in Australia and across the globe."

Work on the contract will be performed by L-3 Warrior Systems and the Australia-based L-3 Oceania. The company also plans to open a new sustainment center in Australia to provide logistics and customer support in the country.

The contract supports the Australian government's LAND 53 Phase 1BR program, which aims to boost the military's night vision and imaging capabilities. Officials expect deliveries to begin between May 2017 and May 2021.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will move forward with purchasing over 27,000 assault rifles from the United States, reversing his earlier position.

The rifles will be used by the Philippine National Police. Duterte's reversal comes just weeks after the president said he would consider buying the weapons from Russia if the United States blocked the sale. The controversial head of state gave his approval following a meeting with PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa, who maintained the deal would not meet any opposition.

"We reported to him that the processing of the documents is going smoothly, according to the Sig Sauer. They saw no one is blocking it," dela Rosa told a news conference. "So when I explained that to him, he said 'Okay, you continue'."

Philippine authorities said they began doubting whether the sale would go through after remarks made by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. The legislator expressed opposition to the sale, saying Duterte's human rights violations during his administration's anti-drug campaign should disqualify the deal.

Philippine officials estimate roughly 4,000 people have been killed in the effort, although human rights organizations such as Amnesty International say this number is likely higher.

The United States and the Philippines signed the $34.6 million contract to provide SIG Sauer M4 assault rifles for the PNP in July 2016. The weapons cost approximately $1,300 each, and are capable of firing semiautomatic or three-round burst to support close-quarter combat.

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