Turkey Receives US Missiles Awaits Transfer of Fourteen Warships

WASHINGTON–After more than three years of delays–and over bipartisan Congressional opposition (including two US House resolutions) a formal protest from the Cypriot government–appeals by Armenian–Greek–Kurdish and human rights organizations–the Administration has begun delivery of advanced deep-strike Army Tactical Missiles System sto Turkey–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The ATACMS controversy first erupted in 1995 after Congress learned that the State Department approved of the sale–despite Turkey’s record of aggression against neighboring states and its use of advanced US-supplied weapons in operation against its own citizens–particularly the Kurds.

The ATACMS can be deployed with as many as 950 baseball-sized bomblets which disperse over an area of 300 kilometers. According to Agence France Press–ATACMS is known for its high precision in hitting point targets–defense sources said.

"Turkey is buying 72 missiles and about half of them arrived in June," one military source said. The $54 million ATACMS deal will provide Turkey with its first effective ground-to-ground missiles–the defense sources said.

Additionally–according to the July 2 issue of the Turkish newspaper "Milliyet," the US Congress has approved the Pentagon’s decision to transfer another 14 "aging" warships to Turkey. Congress approved the transfer of three frigates to Turkey some time ago. Ankara struggled for two years to acquire them.

According to diplomatic sources–the Congress Commission decided during its meeting on June 25 on the 1999 defense budget allocations to allow the Pentagon to lease 48 warships to various countries. The commission is made up of representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives. Its approval means that the problem created by some Senators–who objected to the "transfer of arms to the Aegean," was solved. Many sources said that the commission approved the paragraph that will allow Turkey to lease the warships it wants. However–they noted that the final decision has not yet been made because of the debate over the other sections of the defense budget.

According to the Pentagon proposal to Congress–three Perry class guided- missile frigates and eleven "aging" Knox class frigates will be handed over to Turkey for $140.5 million.

Defense experts said that the Knox class frigates were used for the first time in 1969 and the last of their series was put to sea in 1974. They also said that none of them is currently used by the US Navy. The vessels can cruise at 27 knots and carry a helicopter. However–their weapons systems are "obsolete."

Three aging Adams class destroyers–three Knox class frigates–and a floating dock will be delivered to Greece within the same context.

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