The United States has deployed a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to the south of Turkey with the aim to support Turkey's fight against DAESH militants in Syria over the weekend. On Saturday, the U.S.-led anti-DAESH coalition's special presidential envoy, Brett McGurk said on Twitter that "U.S. forces struck DAESH targets near Turkey's border in Syria last night via the newly deployed HIMARS system," The U.S. Embassy in Ankara has described the development as the "the latest step in U.S.-Turkey cooperation in the fight against DAESH."
Even though the deployment of the HIMARS systems has been on Ankara's agenda since the spring, the fulfillment of U.S. promises has taken six months and Turkish sources indicated that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) did not request the HIMARS systems from the U.S., while the very similar T-300 Kasırga Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System (MBRL) was already available in TSK inventories.
On April 25, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed media reports that the U.S. will be sending the HIMARS to Turkey's border, which has been hit by DAESH rocket strikes several times in recent months. "HIMARS rockets will arrive on the Turkish border in May according to this agreement and we will be able to hit DAESH targets more effectively. The moderate opposition will advance on the ground," he said. However, several weeks after Çavuşoğlu slammed the U.S. administration for not keeping its promise as the arrival of the HIMARS was postponed to August. "Unfortunately, the U.S. does not keep its promise concerning our agreement," Çavuşoğlu said in May. Referring to the U.S. administration, he added: "What they do is inconceivable both in terms of alliance and honesty."
In addition, the TSK sources in contact with Daily Sabah said that deployment of the HIMARS was not requested by the Turkish side since similar versions of the HIMARS were available in their inventories.
According to Lockheed Martin's official website, the HIMARS carries a total of six rockets with extended range guidance at 60-100 kilometers. Similarly the T-300 Kasırga MBRL System, produced by Turkish defense giant Roketsan, has similar technical capacities. As stated on the Roketsan website, the T-300 Kasırga systems have automatic fire control systems and GPS navigation systems. The T-300 Kasırga carries four rockets and has a range of over 100 kilometers.
The Turkish military has deployed MBRL systems to Kilis province on the Syrian border in recent months and these systems have proved themselves highly capable so far. For instance, Turkish artillery units composed of Fırtına howitzers and Roketsan's multi-barrel rocket launchers successfully killed 34 DAESH terrorists and six vehicles on May 2.
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