Explosive Stuff weblog

News and opinions on international arms trade. Subscribe and stay tuned!

Arms industry into climate change

While the outlooks for the Durban Climate Change Conference (Conference of Parties) are not hopeful, some see possibilities in the failing fight against climate change. The defence industry "could be one of the few beneficiaries from ecological catastrophes", according to journalist David Cronin, by "turning an environmental question into a security issue", "with global... read more >

Indonesia aiming for Leopard tanks

The Indonesian army has received a major budget boost to modernise its weaponry. As part of the programme the army has already agreed on the purchase of 100 Leopard 2 A6 tanks for which $280 million is available, according to Indonesian media sources. The Indonesian army is specifically looking at Europe where surplus equipment has become available in large quantities and relatively cheap. Many... read more >

Keep buying!

According to an internal document obtained by Reuters last month, Germany is planning to reduce its fighter jet and helicopter orders from the European aerospace company EADS. German defence minister Maiziere wants to cut 37 of 140 Eurofighter aircraft, to reduce an order for Puma armoured vehicles to 350 from 410 and halve an order for Tiger combat helicopters to 40. De Maiziere also wants to... read more >

Arms embargoes and business as usual - Libya and Indonesia

Now that NATO finished its air campaign in Libya, it will be a matter of weeks, maybe a few months, before we will hear the first calls for an end to the Libya arms embargo. With many military installations bombed to pieces and arsenals looted, the Libyans have many armament gaps to fill. There is a lucrative market waiting out there. Back in 2004, just after Kadhafi had declared to give up... read more >

Four corvettes for Vietnam

Vietnam is close to ordering four Sigma-class corvettes from Netherlands based Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS). Late September Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung confirmed the news during a visit to the shipyard. According to a DSNS director the contract was "just a matter of financing details". He likely meant arranging export credit insurances from the Dutch government... read more >

Not so SMART

Last week Spain agreed to provide a base for American ships with advanced anti-missile systems on board to take part in NATO's Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (or ALTBMD) system. Similar agreements to set up the necessary infrastructure were recently concluded with Romania, Poland and Turkey. The US-led gradual built-up of a layered missile defence system (Obama's... read more >

Dutch maintenance of Arab F-16s

Daedalus is a Tilburg-based company specialised in maintenance, repair and overhaul - MRO for insiders - of military aircraft. Apart from F-16 related maintenance Daedalus does support work on Chinook and Cougar helicopters. It also operates in a joint-venture with IEI, part of the US branch of Israeli company Elbit. Customers include the air forces of the Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia,... read more >

Frontex – new customer for the arms industry

Last week the European Parliament voted largely in favour of a stronger mandate for Frontex, the EU border control agency. One of the changes is that Frontex is now allowed to buy or lease its own equipment, such as patrol boats and helicopters. New opportunities for the defense industry! Before Frontex was completely depending on EU member states for the provision of its equipment. While its... read more >

Where East meets West

IMAV 2011 is short for International Micro Air Vehicle conference and flight competition and is held this week at the Dutch army base in 't Harde. "Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are small flying robotic systems. With their light weight and small size, they form ideal platforms for both research and real-world applications, both civil and military. The development of MAVs requires advanced... read more >

DSEi and the Dutch

Coming Tuesday the world's largest arms fair, Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi), in Londen, once again opens its doors for arms producers, military and government officials. Over 25 Netherlands companies will be present, as will be a Dutch Navy vessel. A Dutch government delegation, headed by either the Minister of Economic Affairs or the Minister of Defence, will visit DSEi... read more >

Arms trade and the Greek debt crisis

Both Greece and the euro currency have bought extra time to recover from the financial crisis after eurozone leaders agreed a new 109 billion euro rescue deal for the debt-laden country. But worries persist over the size of Greece's debt mountain and the ability of other troubled economies in Europe to overcome their budgetary challenges. Rarely mentioned in the discussions on the Greek... read more >

Dutch firm joins forces with Nigerian navy to establish shipbuilding facility

Wieringerwerf-based company TP Marine intensifies its ties with the Nigerian navy. After providing it with catamarans and refitting its large patrol boats, TP Marine and the navy early this June signed an agreement for the construction of a ship building facility in the port of Lagos. Chief of Naval Staff Colonel Ibrahim noted the importance of the deal for the Nigerian military: “It... read more >

Saudi Leopards

Last week the Dutch parliamentary year finished, with on Thursday voting on hundreds of motions. Twelve of them were on arms export policy issues, many of them referring to the political storm in the Middle East and North Africa. The minister of Foreign Trade, Henk Bleker, was quick to advise against all motions. Nevertheless, late-night voting showed majority support for three of them,... read more >

Arms export policy used as greenwash

Thanks to mobile phones, the use of European weapons against brave Arab people demanding democracy is well-documented. Many Europeans were shocked, and journalists and parliamentarians publicly asked how this could have happened. We do have European arms export regulations, don't we? We were supposed to take human rights into consideration. Some people said this proves the need for a United... read more >

Secret meeting place for shady arms conference

Next Thursday (9 June) arms dealers and government officials meet in Amsterdam for the third annual Netherlands Offset Conference. This conference is about orders foreign defence corporations are obliged to place with Dutch companies when the Dutch military buys something from them (so called 'compensation orders'). For 445 Euros participants can network and listen to speakers from... read more >

Shareholder values

EADS is a Dutch public limited company (“NV”), with headquarters in the university town of Leiden. When this pan-European enterprise was set up in 2000, the Netherlands happened to be both tax haven and neutral ground, quite in the centre of Europe. Initially EADS, one of the world's largest arms companies, was just a letterbox company, registered in Schiphol. But after its... read more >

No dialogue with tanks and soldiers

With hardly any foreign journalist in the country the little news that is getting out of Syria comes through people who take great risks filming demonstrations against the brutal repression by the Assad regime. Hundreds of short movies have been uploaded on YouTube. Many of these show tanks and armoured vehicles used to intimidate and terrorise the demonstrators. An estimated 850 people have been... read more >

Supplier of Libyan cluster bombs claims compensation

In April The New York Times and Human Rights Watch revealed that Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi had used cluster bombs in attacks on residential areas in the western city of Misrata. The little-known cluster bomb turned out to be a MAT-120 mortar round that carries 21 submunitions up to a range of 5,500 to 6,800 meter. With its MAT-120, Spanish company Instalaza was one of the first... read more >