Pentagon admits mistake - Finland expected to get missiles
Finland is expected to finally get the licence it has sought to buy tactical missiles from the United States.
The Pentagon has informed Helsingin Sanomat that a rejection of the authorisation for the deal by the US Congress is considered “extremely unlikely”.
The Pentagon has also admitted that the exceptional problems that emerged in Congress in connection with the missile deal were of US origin.
Initially, Congress refused to grant an export licence, because the application was for the wrong type of missile.
“It was a clear typographical error”, says Paul Ebner of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The DSCA is a Pentagon office which deals with processing export applications through Congress.
The error was linked with the announcement given by the Pentagon to Congress, informing Congress about the planned missile deal. The announcement had the name of the wrong missile.
The Finnish Ministry of Defence did not want to point fingers. “This is about the internal decision-making of the United States”, says Defence Ministry spokesman Jyrki Iivonen.
Finland wants to buy up to 70 ATACMS M-57 ground-to-ground missiles from the armaments manufacturer Lockheed Martin. If Finland were to buy all 70 of the missiles, the cost would be more than EUR 100 million.
Finland is not the only country to be in the market for the M-57s.
“Several countries have declared their interest in getting the battle-tested ATACMS missiles”, says John Kent of the missile unite of Lockheed Martin.
Finland will be able to hold discussions on the actual purchase deal after August 5th, after the end of a 30-day notice period. At this time the US Congress has the possibilities to take issue with the deal.
The actual purchase contract is to be signed later in the autumn.
The mistake was made all the more embarrassing by the fact that the notice given to Congress gave the model of the missile as the M-39. Lockheed Martin says that the M-39 is no longer being manufactured.
The company reports that the difference between the M-39 and the M-57 is in the warheads that the missiles carry. Contrary to the M-57, the M-39 carries a cluster bomb as its warhead.
Cluster weapons are banned by the Oslo Treaty. However, Finland is not yet a signatory, and is taking a wait-and-see approach.
Cluster bombs spread smaller bomblets around, and unexploded bomblets have proven to be a major hazard for civilians in conflict zones.
The M-57 missiles have a range of up to 300 kilometres. Finland plans to use heavy rocket launchers with the missiles.
The purchase of the new missiles is in response to a study on firepower dating back eight years. According to the study, the most efficient weapons for overall national defence are heavy rocket launchers, missiles carried by Finland’s Hornet jet fighters, and special artillery shells.
Finland already bought JASSM cruise missiles for its Hornet fighters. They will arrive in Finland in late 2015 at the earliest.
Finland and USA agree on multi-million euro air-to-surface missile deal (2.3.2012)
US refuses to sell air-to-ground missiles for Finland´s Hornet jets (5.2.2007)