US considers granting missile ships to Turkey

US considers granting missile ships to Turkey

US considers granting missile ships to Turkey

Under a proposed draft bill, the United States may grant two missile ships to Turkey; USS Halyburton, seen in this photo, and the USS Thach. Photo courtesy of the US Navy

A recent bill has been submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives that would authorize President Barack Obama to grant the provision of guided missile-firing naval vessels to Turkey, along with several other countries, including Thailand and Mexico.

Under the motion, Turkey may receive the USS Halyburton (FFG–40) and the USS Thach (FFG–43) ships.
USS Halybutron is the 34th ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided-missile frigates and according to an official U.S. Navy website, the USS Thach also possesses the capacity.

The Turkish Naval Forces already posses “short-hull” Oliver Hazard Perry frigates, which were modified with the ASIST landing platform system at the Gölcük Naval Shipyard by the country’s Marmara Sea so they can now accommodate S-70B Seahawk helicopters. The move comes at a time when Turkey is bidding to develop its national corvettes and frigates along with missiles. SOM, the stand-off cruise against both land and sea targets, is one example.

The bill has angered the Washington-based Hellenic-American Leadership Council (HALC), which has begun pursuing action to halt the transaction, its official website has said.

The bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Dec. 11 and the Greek group’s reaction was first covered by Turkish daily Vatan yesterday.

Greek reaction

Members of the Greek lobby in the U.S. have mobilized to block the sale, encouraging people to write to their representative on the House Committee and demand they vote against the bill, the paper said. “This bill is another example of the United States giving preferential treatment to Turkey on the issue of defense deals, despite Turkey’s increased belligerence toward [Greek] Cyprus and Israel and its continued territorial disputes with Greece,” the HALC said on its website.

Turkey is at odds with Greek Cyprus over oil and gas search activities in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey says Greek Cyprus is violating Turkish Cyprus’ rights there. “Until Turkey commits to a policy of peace in the region and ceases its provocative behavior, which is leading to instability in the Eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. should stop giving preferential treatment to Turkey. H.R. 6649 should not pass,” the HALC said.