BAE Systems

Who are they?

BAE Systems is a British multinational defense and aerospace manufacturer, ranked as the third largest weapons provider worldwide in 2012. It has operations in the UK, India, USA, Saudi Arabia, India, and Australia.

What do they do?

BAE has worked in cooperation with Lockheed Martin and Rafael Advances Defense Systems to produce and market the naval Protector drone, an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), which is used to maintain the siege of Gaza along the Mediterranean coast. BAE also provides Head Up Display systems (HUDS) for target selection in F-16 jets, as well as helmet display and other systems for F-35 jets ordered by Israel. Its subsidiary, Rohar International, supplies dispensing systems to the Israeli Air Force.

According to UN OCHA, Israel limits Gaza fishermen to an area no wider than 3 to 6 miles off the coast, severely limiting their access to fishing.  This is in contravention of the Oslo Agreements which state that Gaza fishermen should have a clearance of 20 nautical miles off the coast. Even when within the 3 and 6 mile boundaries, Gaza fishermen risk being attacked by Israeli naval vessels, which have killed and injured fishermen or resulted in damage to/confiscation of their boats. The siege of the Gaza Strip is considered by the International Committee of the Red Cross as collective punishment in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

BAE display systems integrated in F-16 aircraft have been used against Palestinian civilians in air strikes over densely populated areas in violation of international law. The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict ruled that the Israeli attacks in 2008-9 as part of Operation Cast Lead constituted violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. 1394 Palestinian men and women were killed in these attacks, of them 345 minors.

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza are ongoing. Aerial strikes against civilian homes by BAE-outfitted F-16 jets were specifically recorded and described by independent human rights organizations following the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza known as Protective Edge. According to OCHA, 2192 Palestinians were killed during the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge, including numerous whole families. More than 20,000 housing units were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.

BAE has also manufactured the M109 Howitzer, a self-propelled artillery piece which shoots 155 mm projectiles, used by militaries around the world. Initially introduced in the 1960s by Ground System Division of United Defense LP (which became BAE), the M109 and its various upgrades have been used in multiple wars including the US invasions of Vietnam and Iraq (both in 1991 and 2003) and the Saudi attack on Yemen beginning in 2015. For it’s part, Israel has used the M109 in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead in 2008, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014 among others.

Who else has taken divestment action against this company?

Defense contractor BAE has been targeted across Europe and North America by university students, banks, and pension funds for its role in human rights violations.

  • In 2013, in Canada, York University’s undergraduate Federation of Students voted to divest the school’s holdings from BAE, citing the its sale of “weapons and military equipment to Israel.”
  • Graduate students at Canada’s Carleton University voted in a 2012 referendum to divest the university’s pension from BAE, citing its “complicit[y] in the occupation of Palestine.”
  • Graduate students at Canada’s York University voted in 2012 to divest from BAE, citing its role in “Israeli human rights violations, war crimes and oppression.”
  • The University of Michigan at Dearborn’s student government passed a divestment resolution in 2010, citing BAE’s “…[sale of] weapons, goods, and services to Israel.”
  • Students at Cardiff University in Wales, citing BAE’s “supplying [of] military equipment to Israel,” participated in a three-day sit-in in 2009 until university officials confirmed they had sold the school’s shares in BAE.
  • For more information see the Corporate Research Project’s Rap Sheet.