Posts Tagged machine gun

General Dynamics adds to killing arsenal

General Dynamics has introduced a new machine gun to an arms market that seems to have boundless creativity when it comes to killing people. The new machine gun, which uses .338 ‘Norma Magnum’ cartridges, increases the lethality of the new machine gun compared to the 7.62 calibre machine guns commonly in use, according to General Dynamics.

The new machine gun is light enough to be carried, or can be mounted on vehicles, aircraft, or boats. Or, one can predict, it will someday be mounted on the pickup trucks which are ubiquitous in third world conflict zones. And with GD claiming low  production costs and .50 calibre firepower, this new machine gun will no doubt be in demand. Photographs of the guns apparently being used in an Afghanistan-like setting can be seen here.

It appears that the new lightweight machine gun will be produced in the US. It is interesting that the new machine gun is able to compete in the same markets as East Sussex machine gun maker Manroy. GD also maintains a facility in Hastings, East Sussex. According to internet sources, the new machine gun is intended to replace the heavy ‘M2’ design machine guns.

Despite the international focus on ‘weapons of mass destruction’, the vast majority of deaths in conflict zones result from small arms fire. This General Dynamics introduction is an unwelcome development in the effort to curb violence and conflict.

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East Sussex Machine Gun Maker Profits Up

Manroy Plc, the UK’s largest maker of heavy machine guns, has increased profits substantially over last year. Share prices are up. Manroy has gone from having a loss of £33,000 in the six month ending March 2010, to a profit of £1.14 million in the same period this year.

Manroy does not publicise the destination of its sales but is known to sell machine guns to the regime in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest supplier of machine guns to the UK, and is believed to have a close association to the UK Ministry of Defence.

CEO Glyn Bottomley claims that Manroy ‘does not accept orders from any embargoed country’, and only sells to countries on the UK’s list of acceptable recipients. (What he does not mention however is that until recently the Ghadaffi regime  in Libya was on the UK’s list of priority customers. Bottomley has previously stated that Manroy has not sold machine guns to Libya. Is it possible that the shifting relationship between the UK and Libya has deprived Manroy of a market that it intended to enter?)

Manroy claims that certain events, (probably meaning the ‘Arab spring’ ) have delayed orders, but that these orders will likely be placed in 2012. Manroy also claims that it is well placed to expand its sales to the US military.

In its notes to the consolidated financial statement, Manroy PLC list the UK as the source of 82% of its sales in the last six months, (ending March 31, 2011) 16% to European customers, and 2% to North American customers.

Manroy claims to sell machine guns to several different countries. Other than the UK, US, and Saudi Arabia, it is not clear who are the other recipients of the Manroy exports. Because Manroy does not generally disclose its actual or intended customers, it isn’t clear who are the actual recipients of Manroy machine guns. But we can presume that the possible recipients will be any country not embargoed by the UK.

A 2006 article in the Guardian lists some of the countries on the UK priority list for arms exports, including Iraq, Libya, Colombia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Kazakhstan.

Rt.com reports that the UK has okayed arms sale to 15 Middle East and North African regimes since January 2009, including sales to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Algeria, and Syria. UK suppliers sold the Ghadaffi regime of Libya £100 million worth of arms since January, 2009. While a number of these countries are now embargoed, it is likely that several others will be on the potential list of customers for expanded Manroy arms sales in the future.

Manroy recently received a £4.1 million contract to supply UK MOD with blank ammunition.

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Small Arms Big Cause of Death in Conflict

With British machine gun maker Manroy poised to expand its operations, and the UK eager to step up exports, Britain will be expanding its role in the misery caused by small arms in conflicts around the world.

One of the biggest problems with small arms is the ‘leakage’ of weapons to a variety of actors from dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, to insurgent groups and criminal gangs. Many small arms are sold to security forces and used to repress their own populations. Small arms are easy to store and don’t quickly become obsolete, so they are often recycled from conflict to conflict.

Some small arms manufacturers actively pursue illegal markets, and in other cases arms sold to ‘legitimate’ customers are redirected to particularly unsavoury markets. Governments are often eager to increase export sales, and drop ethical considerations. The  UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation  has put the following countries on its export priority list: Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, India, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the USA. (Source) Included in these countries are many authoritarian dicatorships, unstable conflict-riven countries, and western countries with a history of intervention in foreign lands. Note that the list was created before we fell out with the authoritarian Quadhafy regime in Libya. The UK government was willing to supply arms to an unstable dictatorship that only a few month later we are at war with.

Small arms are often a high cause of death in conflicts, much greater than public perception. News reports tend to focus on large scale violence and bombings, not the slow dribble of violence that goes on day after day killing large numbers of people unspectacularly and often out of sight. Small arms including machine guns are a significant source of accidental deaths.

A good source of information on small arms proliferation is the Small Arms Survey. Here is their report on Heavy Machine Guns.

The Federation of American Scientists has prepared a good article on the global threat of small arms.

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Manroy Buys Sabre, the Beleaguered US Arms Company

Manroy’s US subsidiary, Manroy USA, has won the auction to purchase bankrupt US arms manufacturer Sabre Defence Industries.

Manroy USA bought Sabre for $4.95 million, beating out rival Colt. Firearms Blog reported a previous relationship between Sabre Industries and Manroy, because the the owner of Sabre, Guy Savage, had previously purchased Ramos Defense from the current owner of Manroy.

Sabre was in dire difficulties because its British owner CEO Guy Savage and four of his executives were under indictmen:

by a federal grand Jury in Nashville on 21 counts of illegal international arms trafficking, conspiracy, making false statements, smuggling, wire fraud and mail fraud.(source) (new source)(new source #2)

Manroy plans to reopen the plant and rehire the staff, though it had misgivings about rehiring the executives under indictment.

Bankuptcy News blog reports Manroy executive Steve Sarles as saying:

“The executives are in question right now because of the federal charges. We need to have our lawyers look at that. That’s an ugly situation.”

Brandon Gee, writing in the Tennessan provided an in depth summary of the case against Sabre exectives, in the US District Court, in Tennessee. Subsequently four of the executives pleaded guilty in plea bargains.

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British Machine Gun Manufacturer Expanding

An important British arms manufacturer, Manroy Engineering Ltd.  has relocated its production facilities from Sandhurst, Berkshire to Beckley, East Sussex, near the town of Rye. The company’s major product is the M2 heavy machine gun, a 50 calibre machine gun. Its main customer seems to be the UK Ministry of Defence.

Manroy started out in 1975 as a ‘mom and pop machine gun factory’ owned by Roy and Madeleine Swainbank.

Manroy appears to be the only UK producer of heavy machine guns. Manroys Company Information Disclosure‘ reveals that UK MOD “works closely with Manroy, holding bi-annual strategy meetings in which it has actively encouraged Manroy to provide a broader offering of logistical support and services to the MOD.”

The UK MOD has been buying the M2 for many years, and uses it throughout its operations. Recently Manroy has made a major sale to a ‘middle eastern country’, which appears to be Saudi Arabia. (Manroy has made sales to Saudi Arabia before, however the secrecy involved in this sale suggests the possibility of a more ‘sensitive’ destination for these weapons).

Manroy also reveals that it has had sales to ‘approximately’ 30 countries, as approved by the UK government. The new management at Manroy claims that it has doubled production, and will pursue a strategy of growing exports in North and South America, North Africa, and the far east by ‘harnessing relationships of local representatives’ (an ominious statement that could mean many things).

Manroy states that it plans to bid for contracts to produce pistols and assault rifles for the MOD.

Manroy also produces the 7.62mm ‘General Purpose Machine Gun’, and various ‘accessories’. Photos and data about Manroy’s full product line can be found here.

According to Dow-Jones (as published in Automated Trader), Manroy Systems Ltd. has recently been purchased by Hurlingham PLC and floated on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) stock market, under the name of Manroy PLC. In 2009 Manroy had a pretax profit of £1.2 million on revenues of £11.7 million.

The company plans to expand its production to include small arms, rifles, and pistols.

Manroy has been in a dispute with the UK MOD. In 2008 it was reported that the British army was running out of machine guns because of the dispute. This was particularly embarrassing for the army because UK pleas for replacements from the Americans were snubbed (the reasons aren’t clear).

The Sun article suggested that the original contract for spare parts was inadequate, and usage of the guns was higher than predicted.

This Telegraph report seemed to suggest that the dispute seemed to revolve around the demand that the UK MOD receive its parts in priority to Manroy’s sale to Saudi Arabia.

The M2 ‘Browning’ machine gun comes in many formats. It isn’t clear what format Manroy produces for the UK, but it is associated with the L111A1, (M2HB), suggesting it may supply a variety for formats to UK MOD. This Wikipedia article describes the Browning machine gun and its history.

The Manroy products appear to be used where ever UK land forces are deployed, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. UK MOD Defence News reports that “the ’50 Cal’ can knock holes through the thick compound walls found across Afghanistan with ease.” The machine guns are typically mounted on a vehicle, but can be hand carried. They have an effective range of up to 2,000 metres.

In early 2010 Manroy received orders from the MOD for About £11 million worth of parts and weapons systems, spread over three years.

16 February,2011 the UK MOD appears to have given Manroy a small contract (2011/S 10-014649) without competetive bid (because the service could not be provided without access to Manroy’s proprietary information). The contract was for £75,000.

The largest shareholder (18.1%) of Manroy Plc, as of 2010 was Caledonian Heritable Limited, which appears to be a venture capital company mostly involved in restaurants and the entertainment industry. Glyn Bottomly, the Manroy CEO, holds 16%, and Cazenove Capital Management Limited (an investment fund) holds 7.9%.

CEO Glyn Bottomley was most recently the Managing Director of AEI Systems, another larger British arms company with a base in Ascot, Berkshire, and remains so in 2011. (The former article includes a photo).

Manroy has exhibited at the 2010 ‘Eurosatory’ arms fair in France, and at the 2009 DSEI arms fair in London.

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