War profiteer of the month: Textron
Textron is an American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies industrial conglomerate. Textron includes several companies including Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft, and Beechcraft, Textron Systems, and has offices across the USA and in the United Kingdom. The company's total revenue in 2015 was over $13 billion, and have applied to export to authoritarian states and countries in conflict across the world, including to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Textron Systems, a subsidiary of Textron, was the last US company to build cluster munitions – the company designed and built the CBU-105, a “precision-guided” sensor fuzed weapon, which scatters a large number of smaller “bomblets” across an area. Each weapon is made up of ten submunitions, each containing four warheads. The CBU-105 was originally based on a non-guided cluster bomb, the CBU-97, and was originally deployed (but not used) in the late '90s during the Kosovo War. It was first used during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Each bomb cost $360,000.
In September 2016, the company announced that they were ending the production of the CBU-105, with “reduced orders, a volatile political environment and international weapons treaties that negatively affect the “ownability” of it's shares” cited as reasons for the decision. The companies offices in the USA were the site of regular protests in 2016.
However, the cluster bombs that Textron designed, built, and profited from continue to kill and maim across the world. In December 2016. The Intercept published evidence that the the shell casings from the bomblets that make up the CBU-105 were identified after an attack on the village of al-Hamya, in Yemen, by the Saudi-led coalition, which killed a local fisherman and damaged fishing boats. Human Rights Watch confirmed that the same bomb was dropped on al-Hamya in 2015, damaging several homes.
In 2010, the US approved the sale of 1,300 CBU-105 bombs to Saudi Arabia, and an additional 400 in 2011. In mid-2016, the Obama administration blocked a transfer of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia. Despite ending production, the Pentagon continues to maintain a large stockpile of cluster munitions, including those built by Textron Systems. While over 100 countries have signed the Cluster Munitions Convention banning the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer of cluster bombs, the convention hasn't been signed by the USA, Saudi Arabia, China or Russia, among others.