Airbus Military manipulates Oxfam figure to bolster arms sales

Something that has struck me for years is the rather explicit nature of arms industry advertising. All military magazines have them. Promoting arms that ‘hit-to-kill’, clamouring being ‘battle proven’, or announcing ‘new tools for new rules’.

In a way you get used to it. Occasionally though, I still get caught by amazement. As when I saw this recent ad by Airbus Military, part of Europe’s second largest arms company EADS:

Airbus promotes its versatile military aircraft claiming that it will bring ‘hope for 375 million people worldwide’ who need urgent aid because of human conflict, natural disasters or ‘unstable borders’. While I was struck by the high number and thought of how many aircraft orders that could mean for Airbus, I noticed the asterisk referring to Oxfam data.
(Have a better look at the advert on p.6-7 in the ‘Show Daily’ for AeroIndia, the aerospace and arms fair that was held in Bangaluru this February, and note the reference underneath the picture)
Airbus apparently refers to Oxfam’s “The Right to Survive – the humanitarian challenge for the twenty-first century” report from April 2009, for which “Oxfam used the best-available data […]  to project that the number of people affected by climatic disasters will rise by 133 million to 375 million people a year on average by 2015. This does not include people hit by other disasters such as wars, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.”
Apparently Airbus advertisers were so quick making this advert that they didn’t bother reading the sentence after the 375 million people figure, thus severely underestimating the number of people potentially needing urgent aid (and Airbus military aircraft).
However, nowhere the Oxfam report urges, or even suggests, governments to bolster spending towards military transports. Which makes you wonder about Airbus sales tactics, bluntly parasitising on human suffering in numbers almost beyond imagination.
Oxfam rather urges rich governments to take the lead in mitigating the impact of climate change, a key factor in driving the increased threat of disaster.
And for Airbus Military: no matter how much they want to portray themselves as well-doers for people suffering, their aircraft clearly serve other purposes as well. The authoritarian government of Jordan, which faces growing protests for democratic change, last month agreed with American company ATK to convert two Airbus CN-235 aircraft into small aerial gunships.
As the Defense Industry Daily website notes: “Aerial gunships are extremely useful in a number of military scenarios, but most involve internal security, counter-insurgency, and special forces work. Their slow speed and regular flight patterns while firing can make them very vulnerable to air defenses, which sharply limits their usefulness in full scale warfare. On the other hand, they can be devastating against insurgents with few to no air defense systems.“
Other military Airbus customers in the region that have orders running are the air forces of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

(FS, 4 April 2011)

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