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Arms Trade News – August 3, 2011

August 3, 2011


Court case details link between Honduran arms and Colombian drugs

InSight, July 21, Honduran Weapons for Colombian Cocaine: The Paramilitary Trafficking Routes

The trial of Juan Carlos Sierra Ramirez, an accused drug smuggler for a Colombian paramilitary force, has exposed details of the Honduran arms trade. Sierra allegedly engaged with Honduran criminal groups in trading Colombian cocaine for small arms, possibly stolen from arms depots in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador, all countries which have experienced civil wars in the past decades. One AK-47 rifle would be swapped for three to eight kilos of cocaine, according to the indictment.

Boeing and Bell plan exports of V-22 to supplement domestic sales

FlightGlobal, July 20, Textron: V-22 may sell to 10-12 foreign countries

Israel is among multiple countries that have expressed an interest in purchasing the tilt-rotor transport aircraft. Textron (Bell Helicopter’s parent company) CEO Scott Donnelly stated that 10-12 countries were likely export targets for the V-22 and that room to manufacture more of the aircraft would emerge by 2016 when U.S. military demand had been largely met.

Israeli company bars sale of Brazilian UAVs to Venezuela, Bolivia

InfoDefensa, July 21, Israel prohíbe a Brasil vender sus vehículos aéreos no tripulados a Bolivia y Venezuela

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles produced under a joint venture between Brazilian firm Synergy and Israel Aerospace Industries may not be exported to Venezuela or Bolivia, according to conditions set by the Israeli party. Although Israeli contractors had been modernizing Venezuelan F-16s as recently as 2005, President Hugo Chavez’ alleged anti-Israeli policies have soured defense relations between the two countries significantly. Brazilian firm Embraer was previously blocked by the United States from exporting Super Tucano combat aircraft to the two countries as well.

Norwegian shooter purchased magazines (il)legally from U.S. vendor

Politico, July 28, Norway shooter: Ammo clips were from U.S.

According to the political manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man charged with the deaths of 68 people purchased large-capacity magazines for his .223 caliber rifle from a U.S. vendor. While gun-control advocates have latched onto the claim as evidence of a glaring export loophole, some export lawyers are questioning whether the sale was legal at all in the first place. Breivik’s claim that he “[h]ad to buy through a smaller US supplier (who again ordered from other suppliers) as most suppliers have export limitations”, may suggest that the vendor was exporting goods illegally.

KPMG survey shows U.S. arms manufacturers hoping to profit abroad

KPMG, via PRNewswire, July 21, U.S. Aerospace & Defense Executives Eye M&A, Foreign Markets to Fuel Growth: KPMG Survey

Audit and consulting firm KPMG has released the results of a survey of aerospace and defense firms in the United States. According to the report, half of all U.S. firms believe that within three years foreign sales will comprise at least a quarter of their revenues; currently only 37% of firms reach that benchmark. Europe, Asia, and the Middle East will likely be the primary export targets, according to executives.

Middle East and North Africa

Iraqi air force revives F-16 acquisition program

Jerusalem Post, August 1, Iraq dusts off F-16s order

The planned purchase of 18 F-16 Block 52 combat aircraft at a cost of $4.3 billion was postponed in February after the Iraqi government determined that funding a food aid program was more important than advanced weapons systems acquisitions. The project has since been revived and the planned number of fighter jets involved has also doubled. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki claimed that the planes would be primarily used to guard Iraq’s sovereignty.

French Minister: Libya strikes helping Rafale negotiations with UAE

Reuters, July 20, UAE most likely buyer for French Rafale jet-minister

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told reporters that daily operations over Libya were reassuring potential buyers of the Dassault Rafale that the aircraft’s engine capacity was sufficient and did not require an upgrade demanded by UAE negotiators. Longuet stated that he believed the UAE remained the most likely export customer for the Rafale, after setbacks in Brazil and India.

Jordan receives further nine F-16s from Belgium, July 19, België levert 9 bijkomende F-16′s aan Jordanië

Belgium has handed over nine F-16 aircraft to the Jordanian Air Force. The Jordanian government allegedly paid 32 million euros for the fighters and had already paid another 70 million euros for sixteen similar jets in the last few years.

U.S. cites Syrian arms transfers to Hezbollah as justification for sanctions

Courthouse News Service, August 1, Obama Extends Measures to Stabilize Lebanon

The Obama administration has renewed blocks on the assets within U.S. jurisdiction of entities undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon. The sanctions are justified, according to Obama, by continued attempts on the part of Syria to exert pressure on Lebanon through the arming of Hezbollah’s armed faction.

Afghanistan receives sixty howitzers from Bosnia and Herzegovina

NATO Press Release, July 25, Donations of Howitzers good statement on NATO BiH Partnership

The 122mm artillery pieces were transferred to the Afghan National Army at a handover ceremony in Sarajevo. They were refurbished by a team of Bosnia and Herzegovinan and U.S. contractors.  A U.S. General present at the ceremony applauded the step towards eliminating excess war material leftover from the Bosnian war.

Four indicted for arms smuggling, aiding Taliban, Hezbollah (pdf)

Department of Justice, July 26, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrests In DEA Narco-terrorism Undercover Operations

The U.S. Attorney’s office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the Department of Justice have unveiled charges against four men caught up in two separate undercover operations. Heroin and weapons, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, were traded between the suspects and confidential DEA sources.


Russian arms exports overpriced, unreliable

Eurasia Daily Monitor, July 21, Russian Arms: Bad Quality and Overpriced

While Russian arms exports have increased in value from $3 billion in annual sales a decade ago to $10 billion in 2010, export quantities have stayed steady while prices soared and quality dropped, according to a Russian official. In addition, the official claimed that profits from exports are not being reinvested in armaments manufacturers, but being paid out in dividends to Putin-appointed private boards. As a consequence, the reliability of Russian goods has come into question and reclamation of faulty products has risen.

Caspian neighbors boost naval forces

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 27, Caspian Sea States On Course For Naval Arms Race

Russia recently announced the deployment of 16 new ships with its Caspian Sea Flotilla, while Iran plans to add 75 missile ships to its fleet. Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan are all also planning naval build ups, although on a smaller scale. The tensions leading to this localized naval race are generated by differing interpretations of the international laws dividing up the inland sea and its offshore oil resources. The nascent Iranian-Russian rivalry threatens to undermine the “strategic relationship” espoused by the two countries’ leaders if a resource-sharing deal is not negotiated to end a dispute that has festered since the end of the Cold War.

Bulgarian arms sales in 2010 amounted to 259 million euros

novinite, July 20, Bulgaria’s 2010 Arms Exports Amounted to EUR 260 M

A report produced by an inter-ministerial export control commission shows that the prime recipients for Bulgarian arms in 2010 were India, the United States, Egypt, and the Czech Republic. Three hundred and thirty-nine export permits were issued during 2010 and only two permits were refused. The report will be published by the Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism after it is presented to Parliament. The figure of 259 million euros represents a large decline in exports from the 1980s, when a peak of $1 billion in annual sales was recorded.

Belarussian arms exports limited but increasingly risky

Belarus Digest, August 1, Belarus As a New Yugoslavia on the Global Arms Market?

Belarus’ contribution to the international arms trade will continue to remain limited, in part due to a lack of self-sufficiency in manufacturing top export products. As old stocks of Russian- and Ukrainian-made military equipment have been sold off, authorities have not invested in new manufacturing capacity. While the Belarussian state is unlikely to profit from an increase in risky arms sales in violation of international sanctions, covert sales by members of the ruling regime and their associates will likely remain lucrative.

German Green party asks Constitutional Court to clarify notification rules

DefenseNews, August 1, German Party Sues Government on Saudi Tank Deal

Members of the opposition Green party have filed a suit with the Constitutional Court of Germany seeking a judgment on whether the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel is allowed to approve major arms sales licenses without first informing parliament. The move follows reports that Germany has approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of 200 Leopard tanks in a reversal of previous policy regarding arms sales to that country.

Swiss ammunition found in Libya sparks debate at home, July 27, Swiss war materiel exports spark debate

Following the discovery of ammunition manufactured by state-owned technology corporation Ruag in the hands of Libyan rebels, left-wing politicians have called for a total ban on arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa. Although Swiss law bars the sale of armaments to states currently in conflict, state export control authorities signed off on the sale of Ruag ammunition to Qatar. Qatar has previously been suspected of transferring arms to Libyan rebels.  If the Ruag ammunition was involved in such a shipment, Qatar would have been in violation of Swiss conditions on re-transfer of military goods.


Opposition criticizes priorities after Uganda Sukhoi purchase

Uganda Daily Monitor, July 26, You don’t wait for war to buy fighter jets, says Gen. Museveni

Ugandan leader General Yoweri Museveni has attracted criticism from opposition figures for the recent purchase of six Sukhoi Su-30MK fighter aircraft from Russia at a cost of an estimated $744 million. Museveni was forced to admit that defense acquisitions should be a secondary priority to infrastructure and healthcare improvements, but insisted that the country could not wait for war before purchasing military equipment.

South Africa launches corruption investigation of Gripen sale

DefenseNews, July 31, S. Africa Reopens Probe Into Gripen Bribes: Report

Following admissions by Saab officials that bribes were paid by its former British partner BAE Systems to secure a 1.6 billion euro fighter jet deal, South African police have formally launched an investigation into the affair. An advisor to a former South African Defense Minister has been named by Sweden’s TV4 television channel as a likely recipient of bribes, in the form of millions of euros in bonuses.


Activists protest Indian arms sales to Myanmar (Burma)

Democratic Voice of Burma, July 25, Anger at Indian arms sales to Burma

Burmese protestors in New Delhi have attacked the Indian government for continuing to supply the military junta with arms while fighting rages in Kachin and Shan provinces. China, Israel, Russia, Serbia, and Singapore also continue to sell weapons to the government of Burma. According to a revised budget released by the Burmese government this year, more than a quarter of total annual spending will go towards the army.

MMRCA decision to be made in 5-6 weeks, according to IAF official

Deccan Herald, July 26, IAF pushes for opening of aircraft bid process

The head of the Indian air force has outlined an expected timeline for a final decision on the winner of a tender competition to purchase 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). The Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon are the two remaining aircraft under consideration. If other air force modernization projects, such as a light-combat aircraft acquisition program and a joint venture with Russia to create a fifth-generation fighter, fall through, the MMRCA purchase may increase to 189 jets at a cost of $20 billion Indian officials suggested. India has also recently finalized and signed a contract to modernize its Mirage 2000 combat aircraft.

Russia enters T-50 in South Korean tender competition

RIA Novosti, July 25, Russia enters S. Korean tender with 5th-generation fighter

Sukhoi’s fifth-generation combat aircraft has been entered in a South Korean tender competition for 60 new fighters with an advanced stealth capability. The estimated budget for the procurement program is $7.9 billion and the winner of the tender will likely be decided in 2012. The F-15SE from Boeing, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon will also be considered by the South Korean government.

U.S. announces Taiwan aircraft sale decision by October

DefenseNews, July 22, U.S. To Decide on Taiwan F-16s Oct. 1

The Obama administration will decide whether to sell Taiwan 66 F-16C/D fighter jets by October of this year, according to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The announcement comes after months of pressure from the Taiwanese government and U.S. congressmen. A new sale would likely upset mainland China, which protested strongly objected to an arms transfer in early 2010. Another option that the U.S. might consider is a mid-life upgrade package for Taiwan’s F-16A/B fighters.

Indonesia close to picking South Korea for submarines

The ChosunIlbo, July 21, Korea Poised to Win Submarine Export Deal from Indonesia

Despite conflicting reports that Indonesia had secured a deal with Turkish negotiators, Korean sources claim that Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine engineering is close to concluding a deal with the Indonesian government to supply three 209-class submarines worth approximately $1.08 billion. If finalized, the sale would represent Korea’s largest arms export deal to date.

Arms smuggling into Fergana Valley aided by Russian agents

The Journal of Turkish Weekly, August 2, British Expert: Smuggling in Central Asia is Endemic

In a region with a long history of smuggling and loose borders, recent ethnic tensions between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks has led to an increase in the movement of small arms from Afghanistan and abroad. British intelligence analyst and journalist Richard M. Bennett suspects that the Russian government, either through its security services or criminal proxies, is responsible for enabling the flow of weapons into the area. The poorly guarded borders of the Central Asian republics are also conducive to drug smuggling, often paired with weapons transfers after the model of South American networks.

Global Issues

Post-conflict disarmament schemes improve as buy-backs fall out of favor

IRIN, July 28, Analysis: How best to remove guns from post-conflict zones?

While cash for weapons buy-back programs have failed in the past, alternate incentive schemes have not necessarily won over former soldiers in post-conflict zones. Experts caution against blanket opposition to cash buy-backs and highlight the need to curb the supply and circulation of small arms in conjunction with disarmament initiatives. They also emphasize that buy-backs can generate the impression that former fighters are being rewarded for their wartime crimes and that allowing former military commanders to dictate buy-back policies for their demobilized troops can contribute to crime and gun smuggling.

Convention on Cluster Munitions passes one-year mark

Cluster Munition Coalition, August 1, CMC Press Release: Treaty banning cluster bombs marks one year anniversary

August 1 marked the one-year anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. One hundred and nine states have signed the treaty, and there are currently 59 states parties. According to the Cluster Munition Coalition, 589,000 cluster bombs containing 64 million submunitions have been destroyed so far.

U.S. State Department publishes new MANPADS report

U.S. State Department, July 27, MANPADS: Combating the Threat to Global Aviation from Man-Portable Air Defense Systems

To better pursue what is considered a “top U.S. national security priority”, the State Department has published a short report on MANPADS, their types, uses, and owners, as well as U.S. efforts to stop their proliferation.

About the Arms Transfers Working Group
The Arms Transfers Working Group (ATWG) is an alliance of arms control, development, human rights and academic organizations and affiliated individuals. ATWG serves as an information clearinghouse, forum and point of contact for strengthening efforts to address the economic, humanitarian and security implications of legal, illicit, and illegal arms transfers. ATWG participants focus on a wide range of concerns related to small arms and light weapons, major conventional weapons systems, and relevant dual-use technologies.


Short explanations are provided to assist recipients of this letter and do not represent the news source nor have they been fact-checked for accuracy.

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