Friday, June 15, 2007
For one thing, the company (it seems) is planning to buy US arms manufacturers and move the seat of their operations to the USA. The present publicity is certainly not helpful for any such project. Their gratitude towards us may be limited.
Maybe we should be preparing our ground for this. For example by looking at some of the other issues that could be paraded, and making sure we have our responses worked out . Doing so raises some awkward further questions for BAe.
One argument for having a ‘home-based armaments industry’ is that it means we are not subject to manipulation by foreign suppliers in case of some kinds of hostilities.
Argentina would perhaps offer evidence of this kind of supplier interference from its experience in the late Falklands incivilities. Apparently France not only blocked supplies of fifty Exocet missiles already ordered (Argentina had five operational at start of hostilities) and stopped supplies to Peru in case it passed these on to Argentina, but it also gave the UK full technical details of French equipment and how to counter it, and flew a Mirage and a Super-Etendard plane to the UK so that the RAF pilots could practice against them. Very helpful.
The assumption must be that an UK arms supplier would also make sure that UK armed forces had any necessary information to deal with its own equipment and block some details to other customers. Well perhaps not, if Lewis Page is to be believed, at least when it comes to informing UK personnel.. He says that in the recent Balkans campaigns (Bosnia and Kosova) UK forces had to deal with UK unexploded munitions manufactured by BAe. Nothing surprising about that, some munitions do fail. However he says BAe refused to release technical details of fuses to UK UXM clearance teams ‘for reasons of commercial confidentiality’. So the troops had to work out de-arming procedures from first principle. Now if true that is really something… and would an US based BAe be more amenable? (Lewis Page 2006 pp 641-642)*
*( The Lewis Page book ‘Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs’ makes a number of very specific allegations against BAe which I cannot evaluate. I just say we need to be aware that this kind of statement is being made and ask that the Party prepare some navigation guidelines for tackling these alleged issues before the press gets confused.)