US approves possible sale of early-warning planes to Japan

Sailors prepare to launch an E-2D Hawkeye off the USS Ronald Reagan

The US State Department said Monday it is ready to approve the sale of up to nine early-warning military planes to Japan, in a sale worth more than $3 billion.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, made by Northrop Grumman, are equipped with powerful radars that can detect other planes and ships at long range.

Worth an estimated $3.1 billion, the deal would also include associated technology and spare engines.

Congress has 30 days to raise objections to the sale, though this is unlikely given that Japan is a close US ally.

"It is vital to US national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability," the State Department said.