British warplanes for Saudi dictatorship

BAE and prostitution, cartoon

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

BAE sells yet more jets to Saudis

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Arms giant BAE‘s new £1.6 billion deal to sell 77 training planes to Saudi Arabia will do nothing for British workers, anti-arms trade campaigners and unions said on Wednesday.

The weapons maker is set to supply 55 Pilatus prop planes and 22 Hawk jets, as well as spare parts and technical support.

BAE international managing director Guy Griffiths said the firm was “honoured” to be supplying the repressive Gulf monarchy‘s air force.

“We have a long history in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and, working with Pilatus, we will provide them with the best training platforms to meet their requirements,” he said.

A Saudi Defence Ministry official, quoted by the country’s SPA news agency, said the deal would help train “the Saudi air force to be able to use the fighter jets efficiently.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokeswoman Kaye Stearman told the Star: “BAE Systems will no doubt present this contract as a triumph for British industry and a saviour for jobs at BAE Brough in Humberside.

“But in fact only 218 jobs are expected to be ‘protected’ by this contract and only for two years.

Selling more arms to an authoritarian regime such as Saudi Arabia is a high price to pay to keep such a small number of jobs for a short time.

“Rather, the UK should be looking to build more sustainable industries, such as renewables, to provide the jobs so badly needed in this region.”

And Unite said it would make no difference to its members at the Brough site, which faces cutbacks as jobs are sent across England to Lancashire.

The union’s national aerospace officer Ian Waddell said: “This is good news for BAE but makes no difference to the Brough site.

“This contract was always in the plan and the announcement has been anticipated for the last year.

“We’ve managed to save about 200 jobs at Brough but still have a massive challenge to save the other 650.

“Two hundred jobs saved feels like a drop in the ocean for our members.”

Anti-arms campaigners accused British defence giant BAE Systems today of “ratcheting up tensions” after boasting that it has secured a contract with South Korea to upgrade over 130 fighter aircraft: here.

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