Since January 2005, Australia’s Department of Defence has spent $96 million purchasing military helicopter parts and upgrades through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. Nearly half of that was spent upgrading and maintaining the Australian Army’s Boeing CH-47D Chinooks. A little more than one-third was expended on parts and upgrades for the Army’s Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawks, including the electronic data management system. Just under $12 million went towards spare parts for the Black Hawks, plus the Royal Australian Navy’s Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawks and Westland Mk50A Sea Kings.
In contrast to direct commercial sales between international customers and U.S. manufacturers, the FMS system operates on a government-to-government basis with the U.S. Department of Defense managing the deals. The advantage of using FMS is that foreign customers get "the total package," said Charles Taylor, spokesperson for the U.S.’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. "Using FMS establishes a long-term relationship with the purchasing, ensuring that they get everything that is tied to the equipment." As well, under FMS the DoD handles all of the paperwork requirements, Taylor added. "In contrast, going the DCS route is like buying on eBay: you get what you pay for and that’s all."
Apparently the FMS program is not suffering from the current recession. Last year, the program moved $36.4 billion of military goods to foreign customers. "[This year] so far, we’re above $40 billion in sales," said Taylor.