Friday, 18 March 2011

BAe v Libyan civilians: the big showdown

Now that the UN has voted to bomb Libya, let's have a look at what Gaddafi will use to fight back.

The US, UK, France, Bosnia, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Colombia, South Africa and Portugal voted to take action. China, Russia, Brazil, Germany and India abstained.

Curiously enough, they're the ones that exported a lot of weapons to Libya. Then again, so did all the western countries that voted to take action. Clearly this is going to be a brilliant sales opportunity for FN rifles of Belgium, BAe, France's Mirage jets and a myriad of other suppliers: pages 160 and 161 of this EU report tells us that pretty much every EU country except for Ireland bunged the Libyans some kit in 2009-10, to the tune of billions of Euro. With all sides armed by the West, we'll really see what stuff functions well in these 'heightened circumstances' and what doesn't.

What has Britain sold them? £200m of stuff just in Jan-October 2010, according to the Guardian:

However, equipment listed as cleared for export to Libya last year include "teargas/irritant ammunition" and "training teargas/irritant ammunition", "military cameras" and components for "surveillance equipment and targeting equipment".
Other items cleared for supply to Libya were "accessories" for military small arms training, and technology for "military communications equipment", small arms ammunition, weapon sights, sniper rifles, "command and control vehicles", radio jamming equipment and what is described as "civil explosive detection/identification equipment". Also listed as cleared for export to Libya is "command communications control and intelligence equipment".
Private Eye says the UK has also flogged them £30m of military aircraft and 'bombing computers', APC's, water cannon, heavy machine guns, lots of anti-civilian weaponry and 'a spacecraft'. All this while the PM goes round calling for democracy.

In our story at the beginning of the week headed Bomber release 'will lead to contracts' we mentioned that BAE Systems could be one of the beneficiaries of the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi as contracts to upgrade Libya's defence equipment began to come into the UK.

We mentioned in the piece that MBDA Missile Systems, partly owned by BAE, was reckoned to have recently signed a contract to supply Libya with anti-tank missiles and that the former chief operating officer of MBDA Guy Griffiths went to Libya with Tony Blair in 2007.
We also mentioned in the piece that we had asked BAE to comment on our story but they had not come back to us. This wasn't to suggest that BAE was avoiding the issue, of course, and indeed it appears the reason we had no immediate response was simply down to key people being away during the summer break.
BAE has now given its response and it is as follows: 
"Regarding future business with Libya, BAE Systems, like all defence companies, would only consider business within constraints of UK and US defence export licensing policies."
My guess is that if you've been on a sales trip to Libya with the Prime Minister (this was 2009: David Cameron took a planeload with him a couple of weeks ago), then the 'constraints' are pretty relaxed. 

If you want to ask British Aerospace what they've sold Gaddafi, you can e-mail them. Rather helpfully, they've got a special address: 
for quick ordering.


ed said...

Ceasefire? Wily bastard.

The Plashing Vole said...

Thanks Ed. He's a survivor.
Lots of deaths in Yemen today - another country unfortunate enough to share a border with Saudi Arabia.