The U.S. has decided to sell Turkey $70 million worth of smart bombs including BLU-109 Bunker Buster, a key item in a set of crucial weapon systems, that Washington had been refusing to send to Ankara. This is the first reported sale of the bomb to Turkey. But what has changed ? And what can Turkey do with that critical smart bomb ?
The Pentagon has awarded a contract for the sale of an unspecified number of BLU-109 bunker bursting bombs to Turkey. Ellwood National Forge and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems have been awarded a $682,900,000 foreign military sales contract (Turkey) for BLU-109 penetrator bomb bodies and components. The estimated completion date of Dec. 31 for this project is 2020, a Pentagon release said.
BLU-109s have been in the Pentagon’s inventory since 1985 and are reported to have been deployed on fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The BLU-109 has been sold to key US allies including Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE. However, This is the first reported sale of the bomb to Turkey.
The bomb contains 550 pounds of high explosive Tritonal, a combination of 80% TNT and 20% aluminum powder. The BLU-109’s tail fuze delays the bomb’s detonation until the bomb has penetrated the targeted bunker, ensuring complete destruction of the location.
The sale of BLU-109 Bunker Buster bombs has the potential to create significant, if not critical, political implications in Turkey’s war on PKK terrorist organization. If or when becomes operational, these bombs can destroy the PKK strongholds and bunkers in Mount Qandil, where most wanted leaders of terrorist organization seeks shelter from frequent Turkish air strikes, often ineffective to penetrate into hardened bunkers carved into the mountain. Yet, with this unique force multiplier, Turkey will have the capability deny the Qandil mountain to serve as a safe heaven for most wanted terrorists in Turkey. Compared to BLU-109 Bunker Buster, Turkey’s current Mk-84 bombs are not advanced enough to penetrate into hardened bunkers in Mount Qandil, as it is explained here.
The foreseen completion date for the critical sale is 2020, according to the contract, which makes us think that unspecified amount of BLU-109 Bunker Buster bombs will be delivered gradually to be completed in 2020. We would here like to draw your attention to the date of planned next parliamentary elections in Turkey, which is scheduled to take place in fall 2019. That is to say, Turkey’s current ruling party will most likely to gain a significant advantage in the next elections, if they can manage to utilize this unique capability offered to Turkey in destroying the PKK stronghold in Mount Qandil, which potentially could eradicate the command and control capability of the terrorist organization.
This critical capability is a “game-changer” for both Turkey’s political arena and security policies. Yet, it is also not difficult to guess in return of what the U.S. policy makers decided to approve the sale now, as we are getting ready to see what will unfold in northern Syria up until 2020.