NEW YORK – The Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet has reported that the United States has agreed to “sell Turkey $70 million worth of ‘smart bombs,’ a key item in a set of crucial weapon systems that Washington had been refusing to send to Ankara.
The Pentagon announced that U.S. State Department “approved the sale after the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), part of the U.S. Department of Defense, told Congress late on Oct. 28 that Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) systems would be sold to Turkey, granting lawmakers 15 days for any block.”
“It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our NATO ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the DSCA stated on its website on Oct. 29.
According to Hurriyet, on October 8 U.S. senators Ben Cardin and Bob Corker acted to block the sale “smart bomb kits” to Turkey. Corker also wants to block the sale of frigates and congressman Eliot Engel was concerned about the sale of military helicopters.
At a time when the media is still raising question about exactly whom Turkey is bombing in Iraq and Syria, Isis or Kurds, etc. the friends of Greece and Cyprus on Capitol Hill have reassured the community that the sale should not worry them – as Hellenes or Americans.
Hurriyet was told by security sources “before the approval that if the U.S. does not issue permits for smart ammunition sales then Turkey would run out of the military equipment critical in military operations against the PKK,” the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Andy Manatos, president of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes and noted Washington Lobbyist, has been monitoring the situation.
He told TNH that people on the Hill who are friendly to the community Greece and Cyprus should not be concerned. They feel the sale is a good thing because more accurate bombs will limit civilian casualties “If they will be bombing Isis,” Manatos said, emphasizing the quotation marks.
He cited an analogous situation, the attempt by Sikorsky Aircraft to build a co-production facility that could transfer technology to Turkey that could potentially harm U.S. interests, particularly through Turkey’s selling it to America’s enemies. When Congress attached restrictions, however, interest in the deal evaporated.
Manatos noted however assurances from the Pentagon and the bureaucracy turn out to be meaningless, be he said “they feel pretty comfortable about this case, unlike some of the others.”
TNH’s Capital Hill sources explained the arms sale process.
John Sitilides, president of Trilogy Advisors believes the U.S. green light was part of the talks that gave aircraft needed in the battle against Isis and the larger goal of ousting the Syrian President access to Incirlik airbase.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee gets preliminary notifications on such arms sales from the State Department and then House and Senate Democrats and Republicans review the sale and raise questions at hearings and meetings. Once sufficient assurances are made, the sale is permitted to go through with a formal notification by DSCA, as Hurriyet reported.
The notification kicks off an additional 15 or 30 day review period. If concerns remain, lawmakers can move forward legislatively to block the sale, though, for example, a resolution of disapproval that is passed by the House and Senate, although the president can veto it.
TNH was told that questions about Turkey’s actions and motives in Syria were probably part of the review process.
Asked if there should be concerns that smart bombs could give Ankara the capacity for decapitating strikes against command, communications and control facilities of U.S. allies, TNH’s sources said more sophisticated weapons would be needed for that.
The sources said that what is being given to Turkey – they are kits with many pieces and parts to them – cannot be reverse-engineered to enable Turkey to produce their own and make technological advances.
While the congressional sources did not have a sense of how vocal or active the Greek government’s opposition might be, it was suggested to TNH that the Greek government may be looking for stronger assurances from the Executive Branch.
F-16s, seen above in formation, are the backbone of Turkey’s air force. The USA’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has approved sales of smart bombs to Ankara.