- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

The U.S. military has secretly recovered an unexploded Tomahawk cruise missile from northern Albania that was left over from the 1999 Kosovo bombing campaign.
Pentagon officials said yesterday the long-range cruise missile was disarmed and its unexploded warhead removed by a four-member team of bomb experts in the past several days.
Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Tomahawk was discovered by an Albanian national earlier this month in northern Albania. It was under a flight path indicating it had been targeted against Serbia.
The U.S. European Command, which is in charge of military forces in the area, was notified of the missile late last week, and dispatched a four-member explosives ordnance team to check it out, Adm. Quigley said.
A second Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the bomb disposal team removed the unexploded warhead and other components over the weekend.
"The missile had not armed itself and we don't know why it went down," this official said.
The downed Tomahawk could have been an intelligence boost for foreign powers, such as China, which are seeking to match U.S. long-range missile attack capabilities. U.S. officials said Tomahawk technology — primarily the turbofan engine and Global Positioning System guidance package are sensitive military equipment.
China is working on a long-range cruise missile and recently tested an air-launched version for the first time. Chinese intelligence agents succeeded in recovering some parts of a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM guided 2,000-pound bomb, that mistakenly blew up China's embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
However, U.S. intelligence officials believe that both Russia and China have had access to a Tomahawk as the result of earlier missile failures in conflicts in the Middle East and operations in Southwest Asia. Officials said the missile probably was not discovered sooner because it went down in a remote area of the country known as the Albanian Alps.
The missile was one of scores of Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles fired from U.S. ships and submarines in the Adriatic Sea during Operation Allied Force in the spring and summer of 1999. The conflict began March 24, 1999, and ended June 20, 1999.
The operation's goal was to drive Serbian military forces from Kosovo, where they were accused of the "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovar Albanians.
According to the Pentagon's after-action report on Kosovo, 218 Tomahawk missiles were fired during the campaign. The missiles were armed with both high-explosive warheads and submunitions — those that drop between 150-200 smaller bomblets.
All those fired in the Kosovo bombing campaign were Tomahawk Block III missiles, which are equipped with an electronic jam-resistance guidance system and a smaller warhead for increased range. The missile has a range of about 690 miles.
The Tomahawks used in Kosovo were fired from two U.S. Navy battle groups and one British submarine in what the Pentagon called "quick reaction strikes" that were not hindered by the bad weather that plagued flight operations.
"Target types ranged from traditional headquarter buildings and other infrastructure targets to relocatable targets such as aircraft and surface-to-air missile launchers," the report stated. "Tomahawk was often a weapon of choice for targets with the potential for high collateral damage, and was used to attack numerous targets in Belgrade."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide