British companies rake in billions from Pentagon military contracts

The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense ©
David B. Gleason
UK defense firms have earned more than £47 billion ($60 billion) from US military contracts during Barack Obama’s eight year presidency, an analysis of Pentagon spending has found.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism trawled through more than 11 million publicly available transactions between the Pentagon and commercial suppliers as part of the study.

Between 2009 and the end of 2015, the Department of Defense (DoD) spent a total of £1.8 trillion ($2.3 trillion) on goods and services, the vast majority of which went to companies based in the US, but British companies managed to haul in at least $1 of every $40 spent.

Transaction records reveal that two-thirds of the overall total was spent on products from the UK and US-based divisions of BAE Systems, whose £31 billion ($40 billion) income came from military hardware and software.

Security provider G4S earned £0.6 billion ($0.8 billion) selling its services at US military facilities in Guantanamo Bay and on the island of Diego Garcia, as well as in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Germany, and elsewhere.

Rolls Royce earned £3 billion ($3.9 billion) from aircraft engines and spares, and BP’s $5.7 billion came from fuel sales.

Serco Group raked in nearly £4.4 billion ($2.7 billion) from a diverse range of contracts, including one to test High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse protection systems used to screen electronics from nuclear detonations.

Dorset-based global engineering group Meggitt Plc was awarded contracts for aircraft parts, as well as targeting and training systems. Middlesex’s Ultra Electronics provided submarine detection systems and acoustic torpedo countermeasure devices.

Between 2009 and 2015, Phoenix Bird Control, a small family owned business based in Suffolk, earned £1.8 million ($2.3 million) from the Pentagon for preventing multi-million dollar bird damage to US fighter aircraft taking off and landing at RAF bases in Suffolk and Gloucestershire.

The firm lost its contract at the end of 2015, but continues to work for the USAF and RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

The Bureau also revealed last Sunday that the public relations company Bell Pottinger received £424 million ($540 million) to run a secret propaganda program in US-occupied Iraq between 2004 and 2011.

The money was reportedly used to fund “psychological operations” in an attempt to win over the Iraqi population and turn them against insurgents.