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U.S. okays $495 mln sale of Sikorsky helicopters to Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has approved the possible sale to Saudi Arabia of nine UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, in a deal valued at $495 million, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the deal would help improve the security of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally that is fighting Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen and participating in coalition efforts to fight extremists in Syria.

DSCA, which oversees foreign arms sales, said the Saudi government had requested the sale of nine helicopters, 21 T700-GE-701D engines built by General Electric Co , embedded GPS systems, machine guns and missile warning systems.

DSCA said the Royal Saudi Land Forces Aviation Command (RSLFAC) planned to use the new helicopters for search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian support, counterterrorism, and combat operations.

U.S. lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale, although such action is rare since arms sales are usually well vetted in advance of a formal notification to Congress.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Plumb)