Feeds

US: BAE 'could have' pirated our secret Stealth 3.0 tech sauce

Arms globocorp enters grey zone?

The Power of One Infographic

The thing is that BAE has taken all the many billions it has made, mainly from lucrative UK military contracts - also from selling off British factories originally given to it gratis by the government* - and used the cash to buy up American plants and personnel. As the US Defense report notes:

BAE Systems Inc [the US subsidiary of BAE plc] is the largest foreign-owned or -controlled defense contractor in the United States. It employed 45,000 employees and generated annual sales in excess of $10 billion in 2005.

As of 2005, then, BAE had roughly three US employees for every two Brits - and this ratio will only have gone up further with the Airbus sale, the money from which was used to buy Armor Holdings in America. So far from being a huge booster for the UK economy, BAE seems to be a channel by which government-created capital and jobs leave the country.

But US employees in such numbers give BAE a lot of clout in America, just as it has here in Blighty. So much clout that the Armor buy was OK'd in Washington despite the fact that the firm was under federal investigation over long-running Saudi Arabian bribery allegations.

Last week, funnily enough, saw the release by BAE of the Woolf report (pdf) into its business ethics, commissioned by the company after the furore following the news of that selfsame federal investigation. (The UK's corruption probe had been previously suppressed by the Blair government, in a move recently described as "abject surrender" by British judges.) Lord Woolf and his fellow ethicsperts-for-hire have avoided looking at the Saudi corruption allegations, however, saying:

Our task is not to conduct an inquiry into the truth or otherwise of the criticisms made of past conduct. We are concerned with the Company’s present activities and, in particular, to ensure that it has the necessary policies and procedures in place to reduce, as far as is practicable, the risk of such allegations being made in the future.

Woolf and Co reckon annual ethics audits from this point on will clean up BAE's image in jig time. These audits, one might suggest, will need to address the possibility of BAE using its transatlantic position to sell closely held American weapons technology from the UK - certainly given that this possibility is being speculated on in US government documents.

The copying of American pop songs by Russian download sites may not be a big deal, after all; but bootleg superjets from Russian or Chinese factories would be a serious problem, if only because we Western taxpayers would soon get hit with a bill for some kind of sixth-generation aerospace deathware to stand the putatively pirated stealth fighters off.

That would, overall, appear to be a copyright-busting business model which could genuinely work; but not in favour of the customer. ®

*Not just weapon and aircraft ones. BAE was effectively paid to take the Rover Group off the government's hands in 1988; it sold its remaining 80 per cent stake in 1994 for £800m.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.