UK Military Test Flying Israeli Drone Over Wales

Before the ash of doom cleared the flight schedules the ‘Watchkeeper‘ drone was successfully test flown on Wedenesday over Welsh skies (ht2 Mike)-

The UK tentacle of French arms giant Thales is delighted today to announce that its new “Watchkeeper” drone aircraft for the British Army has made its first flight in UK airspace. The machine first flew in 2008, above Israel, where the Hermes 450 it is based on is made.

The 20-minute Watchkeeper flight took place yesterday at the new ParcAberporth drone-drome in Wales, operated by controversial MoD selloff bonanza firm Qinetiq, which it is hoped will become a huge economic boon for Wales as the UK robocraft business booms in future. For now though, the main job it has is testing Watchkeeper.

The Watchkeeper itself is a modification of the Hermes 450 craft from Elbit of Israel, which the British Army is already using in Afghanistan under a lease deal with Elbit and Thales. Watchkeeper is superior to a basic Hermes 450, however, as it carries a ground-moving-target-indicator radar (developed with the help of Thales’ French operations) in addition to its electro-optical spyeye package.

The plan is for the British Watchkeepers and their engines to be made (or assembled, anyway) in Blighty. The aircraft will be put together at a company in Leicester called U-TacS, 51 per cent owned by Elbit – thus, Israeli-controlled. The UK engine-making factory will be fully Israeli-owned.

Apart from Thales’ I-MASTER Franco-UK radar, various other European components will replace the ones used by Israel in the Hermes 450. This process is described by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales as essentially endowing Britain with a new unmanned-aircraft manufacturing base boasting 2000+ well-paid, skilled British jobs. This is the main reason why it is taking years and costing hundreds of millions to field a fairly ordinary radar+EO surveillance aircraft.

So I guess there’s still a ways to go on BDS where the MOD are involved…(it’s almost as if the military and the UK government are not at the forefront of human rights, quick someone call the Decents and alert their superior moral senses, the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan may possibly not be about building creches). The base for this testing is the UAV centre at ParcAberporth (& Google map). Of course the skilled jobs are trumpeted and with little choice the fact it is making a living out of death does not get a look in, you can’t pay a mortgage with good intentions, thus capitalism marches on with its evil flying robots of death. Protests in 2004 against the site of course fell on deaf ears when corporate profit and political influence peddling in the war-on-terro era trumps all notions of…well morality-

“We are very unhappy at the proposal and we know many local people are also concerned about it,” said Rod Stallard, vice-chairman of CND Cymru yesterday. “It’s been stated by the US Navy that this type of aircraft will have an armed offence capability by 2015. We don’t think Wales should be used as the site for producing such an offensive weapon. To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines. It’s not for rural Wales, or for anywhere else.”

Local resident Keith Haworth said there were a number of questions about the project that needed to be answered.

He added, “Wales may want to be seen as the new Celtic Tiger, but is investment in remote-controlled weapons delivery technology the face a peace-orientated nation wishes to present to the world?”

ParcAberporth was created under the auspice of the legendarily corrupt patronage machine/quango the Welsh Development Agency  which is now simply the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department of Economy and Transport and the privatised Qinetiq, which was sold off cheap to the Empire’s corporate war machine. Rod Stallard had it right ‘To have public money pumped into something like this is ridiculous. We should be supporting local businesses, not giving public money to multi-national companies to produce killing machines.’ Thankfully we have an election now where we can vote and change all that… oh I am funny.

It’s Almost Like Arms Manufacturers Are Evil Or Something

Via Richard Murphy

FIVE of the world’s leading weapons manufacturers have based multi-billion-euro companies in Ireland in order to avoid tax. Despite the size of these Irish-based operations, which in 2008 alone had a total of €6.34bn on their books, they have just two employees registered in Ireland.

A Sunday Tribune investigation has found that in the same year the companies had a combined turnover of €724.7m with profits amounting to €387m, but paid less than €375,000 to the Irish state, an effective tax rate of 0.09%. Ireland’s low tax regime, which charges just 12.5% in corporation tax, has made this country the ideal location for many multinationals to base themselves in order to maximise profits.

The eight Irish subsidiaries identified are shared between Boeing, BAE Systems, Thales, Raytheon and United Technologies Corporation (UTC), all major players in global weapons production. Between them they produce some of the most feared and deadly armaments available including nuclear submarines, fighter jets, helicopters, missile systems and other modern weaponry.

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Arms & Bribes

In 2006, Tony Blair’s government shut down inquiries into the sale of Tornado warplanes to the Saudi royal family, a deal which had lasted 20 years and grossed £43bn in revenue for BAE.

Allegations emerged that £1bn and a personal Airbus jet had been transferred to Prince Bandar, son of the Saudi crown prince. Another £1bn had been moved to Swiss accounts linked to prominent Saudis.

BAE are finally about to get prosecuted, if the UK government doesn’t step in and protect the crooks again (that being all of them), however our Stateside cousins might want to ask the Pentagon about this deal-

A U.S. unit of BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L) has won a Pentagon contract worth up to $313.3 million for gunner restraints, vehicular safety belt kits and accessories for the Army and Marine Corps, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

Being as-

BAE had its fingers on $8 billion of the Pentagon’s cash mountain last year; the British arms dealer ranks sixth among US defence contractors, the only significant foreign firm, the only one trusted enough to get juicy, sensitive projects.

It is not entirely bluster, when BAE threatens the British Government that unless it is treated better it might move its headquarters to the US.

But a conviction for bribery could ruin everything for BAE because the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is on the warpath against cheating, bribing foreigners.

Yet the Pentagon see fit to continue doing business with BAE, a firm who (along with Barclays bank) once fiddled an aid agreement with Tanzania to take debt relief and education funding to instead buy a totally pointless military radar system, aided and abetted by…Tony Blair. I suppose for BAE it might be hard to know who to bribe right now, New Labour as they can spike the prosecution, the Tories as they can once in power, or the Pentagon so they can move to the US with its military spending that outstrips, er all of planet Earth combined. Or maybe all three to be safe and when/if Tony swindles becoming EU president expect a lot of reasons why NATO needs to have wars and thus new equipment, oh except that part is already going on.

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‘Guns have no place at all in our community’

Note the police (who us H&K firearms) tried to silence media coverage-

Interestingly, local media also came under pressure; Trent FM, who had shown some enthusiasm about reporting these demos, received a word in their ear from both H&K’s press office as well as the police, warning hacks that it would be ‘irresponsible’ to publish the fact that H&K has a warehouse full of weapons in Nottingham, as it may prompt criminals to try and steal them. 

In response the campaigners pointed out to the radio station that H&K’s address was published at Company House, as well as in several business directories. About the radio station being leaned on, the campaigners said that “If the security policy of H&K and Notts police relies on no-one finding out the company’s location, then clearly it is they who are irresponsible, not our campaign and not the media. A large warehouse stocked with high-power assault rifles and submachine guns with inadequate security to prevent a robbery is clearly a significant danger to the public, and publicisng such a danger is very much in the public interest.” 

The H&K warehouse, located at Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham, is next to the ‘Trent Vineyard’, an evangelist church that held the funeral of Danielle Beccan, a 14 year old girl who was killed in a drive-by shooting. At her funeral service the then mayor of Nottingham said, “Guns have no place at all in our community – not in Nottingham, not in my city nor any other city in Britain.” 

It Could Be Worse, We Could Have Made a Loss

UK to Sri Lanka ArmsUK to Pakistan ArmsUK to Afghanistan ArmsUK to Israel Arms

This US Arms Shipment To Israel Must Be Stopped


Click to Enlarge

Image courtesy of Beau Bo D’or in comments.

Via Jews sans frontieres

The U.S. military has sought to hire a merchant ship to deliver ammunition to Israel this month, tender documents show, but the Pentagon said the shipment was not linked to the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

A Pentagon spokesman said the ammunition was for a U.S. stockpile in Israel. The U.S. military pre-positions stockpiles in some countries in case it needs supplies at short notice.

In the tender documents, the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) said the ship was to carry 325 standard 20-foot containers of what is listed as “ammunition” on two separate journeys from the Greek port of Astakos to the Israeli port of Ashdod in mid-to-late January.

Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said he would not comment on shipping routes for security reasons but confirmed a shipment of ammunition to Israel was planned.

“The delivery of ammunition is to a pre-positioned U.S. munitions stockpile in Israel in accordance with a congressionally authorized 1990 agreement between the U.S. and Israel,” Ryder said.

“This previously scheduled shipment is routine and not in support of the current situation in Gaza.”

The shipment originated in the United States, Ryder said. He provided no further details on the intended cargo.

A “hazardous material” designation on the manifest mentions explosive substances and detonators but gives no other details.

The request for the ship was made on Dec. 31, with the first leg of the charter to arrive no later than Jan. 25 and the second at the end of the month.

The tender for the vessel follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December.

A German shipping firm which won that tender confirmed the order when contacted by Reuters but declined to comment further.

In September, the U.S. Congress approved the sale of 1,000 bunker-buster missiles to Israel. The GPS-guided GBU-39 is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world.

First of course it is related to support for the Gaza attack, second note a previous much larger shipment went in December so of course the Pentagon co-ordinated on the attack on Gaza, any accusations of war crimes must also look at the US involvement. Finally, this shipment must not be made, various resolutions, petitions etc vary on some details but they all include measures to stop arms shipments to all sides.

Empire Negotiating Its Chinese Debt

The Pentagon notified Congress Friday of 6.5 billion dollars in possible arms sales to Taiwan that would include advanced interceptor missiles, Apache attack helicopters and submarine-launched missiles.

But war pimps are maybe hoping for more-

Jim Lobe– Just 15 months after being forced to resign as president of the World Bank over a conflict of interest regarding his professional and personal relationship with his girlfriend, former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz may be involved in another, far more geostrategic conflict of interest.

It involves his dual roles as chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) and chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council. Among the latter’s US members are military contractors who have been dying to get the George W Bush administration’s approval to sell about US$11 billion worth of arms to the island to protect it against the threat of an attack by the mainland.

Raytheon 9- New Updates

They’ve had time to put up some detailed reports here. Some excerpts that show even when Raytheon staff are confronted by proof of their work contributing directly to war crimes they affect not to perceive it as unethical or that their conscience is bothered-

…there were legal arguments which centred on the legitimacy of the defence – in short, that the action at Raytheon in August 2006 was not criminal because it was taken in order to prevent the commission of war crimes. In the end, the judge ruled that the defence could be put and that it was for the jury, not the judge, to decide if the Raytheon 9 were acting on the basis of an ‘honestly held belief’. This was a very significant turning point in the trial. It puts the burden of proof on the prosecution.

Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday were mainly taken up with witnesses from Raytheon. A number of these witnesses were people who happened to be in the office when the action happened.

Two were more noteworthy. Kieran McGivern, who had claimed that his car had been damaged by paper thrown from the office window, was asked by defence barristers about the work he performed at Raytheon (he was working on JETTS, a military contract for the British MoD), which he eventually admitted was a computer programme to enable the targeting of weapons. Asked how he felt about the use of Raytheon weapons in the killing of innocent people in, for instance, Lebanon, he said that he lost no sleep over it.

The last Raytheon witness, was John Reilly, head of Legal Affairs and a member of the Board of Raytheon Systems Ltd (the UK company). He presented the bill of damages, which had been considerably reduced by the Compensation Agency from over £300,000 to £97,000, when it was discovered that the PCs that were damaged were not being replaced.

Defence barristers asked him about his view of Raytheon’s involvement in supplying the weapons used in war crimes, and therefore ‘aiding and abetting’ war crimes. He said that he believed Raytheon was an ethical company. When presented with the findings of a report by the Norwegian government that Raytheon was unethical due to its production of cluster munitions, he said that it did not trouble him. He was shown a BBC TV report about the Qana massacre and said that it was not an issue for him that Raytheon weapons had been used in the killing of innocent civilians.

After a number of questions about his role in the drawing up of letters to Derry City Council, he admitted that he had been present at the meeting in September 2006 with the Council at which Raytheon had decided to ‘come clean’ over its military work, after the work on JETTS was revealed by the Belfast Telegraph. He admitted that JETTS had been worked on in Derry since 2004.

The third week of the Raytheon trial began with Eamonn McCann in the witness box.

Eamonn described the run-up to the occupation of Raytheon during the 2006 Israeli assault on Lebanon, detailing the meetings at which the need to take action was discussed and the reasons this particular form of action was decided on.

A lot of the cross-examination by the prosecution concerned whether this was a mere protest or a serious effort to bring Raytheon production to a standstill. Eamonn argued at length that the purpose had been to save lives by hampering the manufacture of bombs and therefore, at the least, slowing their delivery to Israel. There is an important legal point in this, which, we hope, will have become clear by the time the trial ends.

The public gallery was packed again, with a good contingent from Derry and a couple of car-loads from Dublin as well as Belfast anti-war people.

Colm Bryce will take the stand first thing tomorrow (Tuesday). The defendants will be very pleased to see anti-war activists of whatever tendency or group in court to hear his evidence. It is great for morale, and makes the intervals that bit more enjoyable (if that’s the word.)

Posted in Anti War, War Criminals. Tags: , . Comments Off on Raytheon 9- New Updates

Raytheon 9 Days 3&4


Raytheon 9 Trial – Day Three
Today saw evidence submitted from a number of police officers and also video evidence of the occupation and arrests.  All the defendants left the Court in a positive mood. After the police evidence is completed we will have a number of witnesses from Raytheon. The defence case is expected to begin next Wednesday 28th or Thursday.  It is expected that a number of the defendants will go into the witness box.

Trial Update Day Four
Day Four was like Day Three: more boring evidence from a succession of police officers about the arrests. They all agreed that none of the defendants had resisted arrest in any way except by passive resistance, in that they did not cooperate with arresting officers and some had to be carried out of the building. One of the interesting facts to emerge from details of the damage done to Raytheon’s offices was the extent to which the offices were refurbished following the occupation. So, a bill for over £3,000 for venetian blinds was included as part of the damage caused by the 9. Under cross-examination, it became clear that as little as 10 -15% of the blinds had been damaged, but they had taken the opportunity to replace the lot!

Short (10min) Documentary!

Judge Backs Security Services & Arms Trade Against Citizen’s

A legal challenge over the power of the police to photograph peaceful protesters has failed at the High Court. Andrew Wood, from Oxford, claimed he was harassed by the Metropolitan Police for campaigning against the arms trade. But on Thursday, the force was cleared of breaching Mr Wood’s human rights by photographing him and other activists who had committed no crime. The Met had said its actions were “justified and proportionate”.

Mr Wood had complained that the policy of openly taking pictures of demonstrators, on the basis that they might become involved in future protests, was an illegal interference with the right to take part in political activity both lawfully and peacefully. Mr Wood, media co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said retaining the photos of him at the annual meeting of Reed Elsevier, was oppressive. Mr Wood had bought a share in the company, which entitled him to attend the meeting in Grosvenor Square, central London, in September 2005.

But Mr Justice McCombe said Mr Wood was photographed in a public street in circumstances in which the presence of the police – and the press – must have been expected. He said that if there was any interference with Mr Wood’s rights, it was “in accordance with the law and proportionate”. The police insisted that the photos, which they said were taken in a non-intimidatory way, would have been destroyed shortly after the event.

Meanwhile Raytheon 9 second day-

The second day of the Raytheon 9 trial went reasonably well. The evidence came from PSNI officers, who mainly gave a fairly flat and factual account of what they’d seen on the morning of the occupation.  Importantly, none said that he’d seen violence from any of the 9.

There were exchanges between the prosecutor and defence lawyers about what it is that the prosecution will have to show to establish “affray”—putting people in fear of the lives or safety—and criminal damage: if the defendants can show that they genuinely believed they were helping to stop or hamper a bigger crime, will that be enough for acquittal on the criminal damage count? It sounds very abstract, but this could be the point on which the case turns.

The indications are that it will be Friday before Raytheon witnesses take the stand and can be cross-examined about the nature of the business and the links between Raytheon and defence forces, including the Israeli defence forces.

The case did get some coverage in the mainstream media today. This concentrated on a prosecution suggestion that the 9 had indulged in “an orgy of wanton destruction” and the defence riposte that the 9 had been trying to stop war crimes. Just headline stuff really, but at least the issues may be beginning to leak out into wider society—which is what we need.

Those who are in the dock are all in good spirits, and encouraged by messages of support coming into the DAWC from various parts of the globe.

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Arms Trade Corrupt Court Discovers

And our legal systems is run by a global elite answering to their own bloodthirsty avarice, honestly I thought the biscuit thing was a bigger surprise. But at least the legal community and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade are kicking back even if as Korova notes the story was pushed off the front page/agenda by banal tabloid ‘human interest’ that allow the ruling elite (here and in the House of Saud) a free pass.

The High Court has ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully by dropping a corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal. In a hard-hitting ruling, two High Court judges described the SFO’s decision as an “outrage”.

In handing down the decision on Thursday, one of the judges, Lord Justice Moses, told the High Court that the SFO and the government had given into “blatant threats” that Saudi co-operation in the fight against terror would end unless the probe into corruption was halted.

Now I don’t really buy those threats, I think they were agreed upon by the parties implicated as another way to justify & enable dropping the corruption probe into the ongoing arms business between the UK and Saudi elites. To the lower level of government & nationalist security types they might well have appeared genuine, but to the establishment deeply enmeshed in the global arms trade they are facile grandstanding to pull strings and as they well know the ‘war on terror’ is a brand that enables greater profit. If you really think the interests of the British people override corporate interests for Blair and co. then hey why not follow this link, it’s not Rick Astley honest.