Archive for category Ending the Arms Trade

Disarmingman on ‘The Big Problem of Arming Small Drones’

“One of the key concerns about the growing use of unmanned drones by the military is that as there is no risk to your own forces they make launching armed attacks  much easier and therefore more likely. A separate but related concern is how drones are ‘expanding the battlefield’ into areas that would have previously, due to the presence of civilians, been considered off-limits…..


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Protests at Watchkeeper Drone Engine Site

There were protests this week at the Lichfield site of UAV Engines, the Israeli owned company that manufactures  engines for a variety of drones, including the much delayed Watchkeeper drone.

Watchkeeper is a joint venture between Elbit Systems of Israel, and Thales, a French arms company. UAV Engines, of Lichfield (known as UEL) is a subsidiary of Elbit. Engines from this plant are apparently also used in the Hermes drone, which was used in the attack on Gaza recently, and in other aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli sources periodically deny this, but at other times appear to confirm that the motor made in Lichfield is indeed used in the ubiquitous Hermes 450.

The British Watchkeeper drone is based on the Hermes 450.

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If Manroy Didn’t Sell Machine Guns to Libya, Who DID They Sell Them To?

Reuters reports British machine gun maker Manroy Engineering has denied that Libya is the customer for £1.3 million in spare parts that Manroy announced recently to buoy its stock offering on the AIM stock exchange. Manroy has recently sold £6 million worth of M2 heavy machine guns to an unnamed ‘Middle Eastern country’.

While Manroy denies that that country is Libya, it declines to disclose the actual customer, only stating that it does not sell weapons to regimes in the region who are ’embargoed’ by the UK government. From its report of its 2011 Annual General Meeting:

The Board notes the press report on 17 March 2011 concerning the recent turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. The Board states categorically that the Company has never undertaken any arms sales to Libya or to other embargoed countries in the region. Manroy prides itself as having been a key supplier to the UK MoD for 25 years. Manroy adheres strictly to UK legislation concerning the sale of armaments and weapons to foreign countries and governments. Additionally, where the Company sells any of its products overseas, such sales are undertaken in strict adherence to UK Government export regulations and approvals and are only undertaken after all appropriate UK Government licences have been granted.

Which begs the question ‘Who did they sell them to?’

Certainly Israel is a potential customer, as Israel was in the market for a ‘lighter’ machine gun in 2009, as reported on Israel Military Net blog.

What public interest is served by keeping Manroy’s sales secret?

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Barclay’s Bank the Second Largest Shareholder in Israeli Drones Maker

Barclays Global is listed as the second largest shareholder in Elbit Systems Ltd of Israel, with 91,588,921 shares out of 1,298, 178,734 total shares. Barclays holds about 6 and a half percent of all Elbit shares.

Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms manufacturer, exporting drones and other arms items to countries around the world. It is also a supplier to the Israeli military, including the occupation forces that control the West Bank.

Barclays Bank has more than £7 billion invested in the global arms industry, more than any other UK bank. This is despite having a corporate social responsibility policy that prohibits exports that are used by foreign authorities either to oppress their own populations or to support unjustified external aggression. Barclays’ involvement in Israeli companies dealing with the Israeli military would be enough to delegitimise their claim to follow their own corporate responsibility policy.

For a scathing account of the involvement of British bank in the arms industry, download ‘Banking on Bloodshed’, a report produced in 2008 by the British charity War on Want.

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Simlat Sponsor of UAV Training and Simulation Conference, London

The sponsor of the conference is Simlat, an Israeli simulation company based in Herzliya, Israel, near Tel Aviv. Simlat is also participiating in the 2010 AUVSI Israel First Conference, to be held 6 October in Beer-Sheeva, Israel.

Simlat has produced simulators for Elbit Systems 450, for Aegis (which Aegis?) , for United Dynamics and others.

Presumably the training simulation technology developed for Elbit Systems, also works for the UK Watchkeeper system. Thus Simlat is positioned to provide training for Watchkeeper operators, (including when Watchkeeper becomes an armed system?)

Chairman of the Board at Simlat is Moshe Ortasse, former head of the electronics division at Israel Aircraft Industries. Cofounder Yuval Peshin, President, is an engineer and former intelligence officer for the IDF. Also on the board is Mati Lesham, a former general in the IDF. Yoram Hessel, another board member, is a former high ranking  Mossad official. The final member of the board, Boaz Gruener, was a major of the Israeli intelligence corps.

Hessel has a wide range of other involvements, including the Law Enforcement Exchange Program, which takes US police to Israel to demonstrate Israel law enforcement, (and presumably develop bonds between American police and the Israeli police). Hessel is extremely active in promoting the Israeli perspective among international decision makers.

It is always surprising how companies based in a country conducting an illegal occupation, policies of ethnic cleansing,  and in violation of many UN directives can be so closely ingratiated into the military affairs of the western democracies.

Simlat recently advertised its desire to raise $2 million on the website of claiming a large UAV/UAS market in Canada, and therefore presumably a market for simulation training services.

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L-3 Wescam of Burlington, Canada arms supplier to conflict zones

L-3 Wescam, of Burlington Ontario, is an arms exporter that produces, among other things,  ‘web cam’ like imaging equipment, (including laser finding and targeting) for military aircraft, including drones. A key product is an imaging turret for use on the nose of aircraft, manned or unmanned. Their web site:

L-3 Wescam is the result of the September, 2002 acquisition of Wescam by L-3 Communications of the US (formerly Titan Corp). Before that the Canadian company had difficulty in getting large contracts with US arms contractors. Source

One product of the Burlington plant is the MK-20 imaging system, which has been deployed on several types of aircraft, including Predator drones in use in Afghanistan and Iraq. L-3 Wescam’s XL-20; Expanded Cababilities for Expanded Missions, In:

The company appears to be strongly oriented to the US market, both for surveillance under homeland security, and selling parts for advanced American weaponry. The company works with General Atomics of the US, to produce drones for the Iraqi airforce. Press release from General Atomics:

In 2006 there was a protest at the Burlington plant, drawing attention to the use of L-3 imaging equipment on Predator drones, armed with Hellfire missiles. Excellent write-up:

The protest flyer claims that (Industry Canada as the source) L3 Westcam products end up in such human rights violators as: Colombia, Egypt, Algeria, China, Iran, Libya, Saudia Arabia, U.S., and U.K Source


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More articles on arms trade as a cause of conflict.

There’s not a lot of literature establishing the arms trade as a cause of conflict and violence. There’s lots of evidence showing the toll of small arms in killing and maiming civilian populations, however. I’ll try to accumulate whatever evidence I can find linking arms sales with the start of conflict. (One good place might be the sale of arms to Georgia, which permitted the Georgian government a level of beligerence that led to a brush war with Russia).

Here’s one that looks good and needs to be read and summarised. (Help me?) Review Conference on the Illicit Small Arms Trade, 27 June 2006

Here’s a reference where Oxfam states that small arms don’t start wars. Global Military Spending Set to Top Cold War High As Conflict Causes Hunger, Oxfam International, 20 September, 2006

“Year on year arms spending escalates and year on year conflicts are causing more hunger and suffering. Arms sales do not start conflicts, but they certainly fuel and lengthen them. It is time the world stemmed the uncontrolled flood of weapons into the world’s war zones. The world must agree to start work on an Arms Trade Treaty this October,” said Bernice Romero, Oxfam International’s Campaigns Director.

Another great summary:

Anup Shah, Small Arms—they cause 90% of civilian casualties,, Last updated: Saturday, January 21, 2006

Yet another great article, this time with a map showing the main arms producer, and the conflict areas where they are used. Alex Steffan, Ending the Small Arms Trade, World Changing, 2 January, 2007


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