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Cablegate: Sme Lor Submission for 30 Mm Bushmaster Cannons

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000456

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS PREL PGOV PTER CE
SUBJECT: SME LOR SUBMISSION FOR 30 MM BUSHMASTER CANNONS

REF: GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA LETTER OF REQUEST DATE 14

MARCH 2003

SUBJECT SME LOR SUBMISSION FOR 30MM BUSHMASTER CANNONS

1. THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA HAS SUBMITTED REFERENCE
(FORWARDED UNDER SEPARATE COVER) REQUEST FOR A SYSTEM SALE
LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE FOR TEN 30MM AUTOMATIC "BUSHMASTER"
CANNONS WITH ASSOCIATED MOUNTING, FIRE CONTROL, TRAINING,
SPARES AND AMMUNITION.

2. AMEMBASSY COLOMBO STRONGLY SUPPORTS THIS SALE AND IN
ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 70003 OF THE SAMM, THE FOLLOWING
INFORMATION IS SUBMITTED:

A. SRI LANKA REQUIRES THE BUSHMASTER CANNONS TO UPGRADE ITS
NAVY FAST ATTACK AND COASTAL PATROL CRAFT. SRI LANKA NAVY
SHIPS OPERATING IN COASTAL WATERS ARE CURRENTLY OUTGUNNED BY
THE LTTE. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A SINGLE ANCIENT 40MM
CANNON ON THE NAVY'S INDIAN-MADE OFFSHORE PATROL VESSEL,
DECK GUNS ARE ALL 20-23MM. A US-DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
ASSESSMENT OF THE SRI LANKAN MILITARY IN SEPTEMEBR 2002
REPORTED THE WEAKNESS OF MARITIME SURVEILLANCE AND
INTERDICTION CAPABILITY TO BE THE CENTER OF GRAVITY IN THE
WAR AGAINST THE LTTE. A LARGER CALIBER DECK GUN FOR THE
NAVY WAS THE ONLY LETHAL SYSTEM MENTIONED IN NEARLY FIVE
HUNDRED PAGES OF THE DOD ASSESSMENTS. BUSHMASTER CANNONS
WOULD GIVE THE NAVY A GREATER CAPABILITY TO FIGHT THE
FASTER, MORE HEAVILY GUNNED LTTE BOATS, AND PROVIDE
ADDITIONAL INCENTIVE TO THE LTTE TO MOVE TOWARDS PEACE AND
AWAY FROM CONFLICT.

B. SIMILAR THOUGH SMALLER CALIBER WEAPONS ARE ALREADY IN
THE NAVY'S INVENTORY, SO THERE SHOULD BE NO ALTERATION TO
FORCE STRUCTURE. THE INCREASE IN RANGE, LETHALITY AND
ACCURACY HOWEVER, SHOULD GREATLY ENHANCE SRI LANKA'S
CAPABILITY TO DEFEND ITS COASTAL WATERS AGAINST THE LTTE SEA
TIGERS.

C. IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT SRI LANKA'S NEIGHBORS WILL HAVE
NO SIGNIFICANT OR NEGATIVE REACTION TO THIS SALE. INDIA HAS
ASSISTED SRI LANKA AGAINST THE LTTE IN A NUMBER OF WAYS, NOT
THE LEAST OF WHICH HAS BEEN MARITIME INTERDICTION. THE
INTRODUCTION OF A NAVAL WEAPON SYSTEM THAT MIGHT REDUCE
INDIA'S ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS WOULD LIKELY BE VIEWED
POSITIVELY IN NEW DELHI.

D. WITH PROPER TRAINING, SAILORS IN THE SRI LANKA NAVY
SHOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE OPERATING AND MAINTAINING THE
BUSHMASTERS, AT LEAST UP TO AND INCLUDING INTERMEDIATE
LEVEL. TRAINING AND SPARES ARE EXPECTED IN THE INITIAL
PURCHASE, SO THE NAVY WILL LIKELY TRAIN DEDICATED PERSONNEL
TO FOCUS ON BUSHMASTER SYSTEMS MAINTENANCE.

E. THIS SALE SHOULD BE FINANCED WITH COUNTRY FUNDS. THIS
PROCUREMENT WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE ANNUAL DEFENSE
PROCUREMENT BUDGET FOR 2003, BUT SENIOR OFFICIALS HAVE
VERIFIED THAT FUNDING WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE. SINCE THE
PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF DEFENSE HAVE DESIGNATED THIS
PROCUREMENT A PRIORITY, SUFFICIENT FUNDS SHOULD BE EARMARKED
FOR THE PURCHASE WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIME. THE OVERALL
ECONOMIC IMPACT TO THE SRI LANKAN ECONOMY IS INSIGNIFICANT.

F. ALTHOUGH HUMAN RIGHTS CONSIDERATIONS CONTINUE TO BE A
PRIORITY WITH AMEMBASSY COLOMBO, THE GENERAL LEVEL OF HUMAN
RIGHTS GUARANTEES IS GOOD AND IMPROVING CONTINUOUSLY IN SRI
LANKA. THIS CONSDIERATION SHOULD NOT AFFECT THE PROPOSED
SALE.

G. AMEMBASSY COLOMB0 STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THE APPROVAL OF
THIS PROPOSED SALE.

3. POC FOR THIS ACTION IS LTC RICHARD S. GIRVEN, ARMY AND
DEFENSE ATTACHE, USDAO COLOMBO.

WILLS

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