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US

Pentagon's supply of favorite weapon may be dwindling

Tomahawk
A Tomahawk cruise missile launches March 24 from the bow of the USS Philippine Sea toward Kosovo

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March 30, 1999
Web posted at: 11:25 p.m. EST (0425 GMT)


In this story:

Missile stocks being depleted

Nuclear weapons may be converted to conventional

Other weapons being added to NATO arsenal

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon said Tuesday that while rugged geography and bad weather have helped the Serbians, NATO's satellite-guided cruise and Tomahawk missiles have caused significant damage every day of the week-old Operation Allied Force.

"Even on the worst days, we've been able to use some precision weapons: TLAMS (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles) or CALCMs (Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles)," said Vice Adm. Scott Fry, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We're hitting the field-deployed units," said Rear Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, chief of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "There might be tanks, APCs (armored personnel carriers) and supplies and ammo parked in these areas where we can find them."

The Pentagon officials showed some of the sites that have been damaged in the past week, including an SA-6 SAM site.

"This was attacked by CALCMs delivered by B-52s, and you can see these storage and maintenance buildings here have been destroyed," Wilson said.

Missile stocks being depleted

 Estimated Serbian forces & weapons in Kosovo

  • 25,000 army troops
  • 12,000-14,000 special military police
  • Nearly 300 tanks & armored personnel carriers
  • Nearly 200 pieces of artillery

  •  NATO sorties and cruise missiles

  • 1,700 sorties
  • More than 100 cruise missiles launched

    Source: U.S. Defense Department

  • The Air Force is down to about 100 conventional versions of the air-launched cruise missile, while the Navy has about 2,500 of the Tomahawk missiles in stock.

    The Navy told CNN that while there is "no shortage," it is at the point where it has to "manage the inventory very carefully".

    Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon indicated Tuesday that the looming shortage is not yet critical, but conceded, "Yes, that's something that we do worry about. We have ... a supply now, but it won't last forever. But we certainly have enough to continue striking important targets".

    The weapons do not come cheap. Tomahawks cost more than $1 million each. CALCMs, in current-year dollars, cost $1.9 million.

    Nuclear weapons may be converted to conventional

    An Air Force spokesman told CNN that the service's leadership recently requested a supplemental infusion of $51.5 million from Congress to convert 92 nuclear-tipped air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) to carry a conventional explosive warhead. The Air Force wants that money funneled rapidly into the 1999 budget.

    The Navy, meanwhile, is seeking a $113 million emergency appropriation to convert 324 Tomahawk cruise missiles to the latest model with upgraded guidance and a conventional blast warhead.

    The upgrades to the Navy version of the cruise missile would include new engines, add GPS satellite guidance systems, increase the missile's range by more than 300 miles, encase the warhead in titanium for better penetration capability, and allow in-flight re-targeting.

    Other weapons being added to NATO arsenal

    Meanwhile, five U.S. B-1 bombers will add new firepower to the NATO arsenal in Kosovo.

    The aircraft are equipped to deliver high-tech cluster bombs. Those bomblets are heat-seeking and especially effective against tanks and armored vehicles.

    "We're already hitting armor and troops in the field," said Wilson, "and we're hitting support mechanisms at bases as well as field support mechanisms where tanks and APCs come back to refuel and reload after their patrols."

    CNN National Security Producer Chris Plante and Correspondent Charles Bierbauer contributed to this report.


    RELATED STORIES:
    U.S., world mobilize to aid Kosovo refugees
    March 30, 1999
    U.N. to airlift aid to refugees in Albania
    March 30, 1999
    Primakov in Belgrade, meets with Milosevic
    March 30, 1999
    Desperate refugees flee Kosovo, accuse Serbs of atrocities
    March 29, 1999

    RELATED SITES:
    Yugoslavia:
      • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
          • Kesovo and Metohija facts
      • Serbia Ministry of Information
      • Serbia Now! News

    Kosovo:
      • Kosova Crisis Center
      • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
      • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

    Military:
      • NATO official site
      • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
      • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
      • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
      • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
      • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

    Media:
      • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
      • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
      • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

    Other:
      • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
      • Doctors of the World

    Extensive list of Kosovo related sites
    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

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