With not long to go before Aerolink Wales 2009, due to take place on 7 April at the 4 star Vale Hotel and Spa, the organisers of this Welsh government-sponsored arms fair are getting excited. ‘We are looking forward to the 2009 event and providing our attendees with even more opportunities than ever before. With purchasing, research and technical, engineering and innovation representatives from some of the best known companies in Aerospace and Defence… 2009 is shaping up to be the biggest and best Aerolink Wales yet.’
And don’t the weapons manufacturers know it! Commenting on previous Aerolink events, the purchasing manager of General Electric engine services, part of the defence company which reported record earnings of $183 billion in 2008, is quoted as saying: ‘We all felt the day was fruitful with a number of potential opportunities.’ Opportunities (subsidised with our money, of course) to meet and do business with plenty of other weapons manufacturers and…Ty Hafan, the well-known Welsh charity which runs a hospice for dying children?!
We wondered if Ty Hafan’s presence as an exhibitor – for which it may have paid as much as £750 plus VAT – was a mistake. Not at all, according to Elizabeth Read, Ty Hafan’s fundraising and marketing director: ‘Representatives of our Corporate Partnership team are planning to attend the Aerolink Wales exhibition. We develop relationships with a number of companies in South Wales that are interesting (sic) in working with a charity. These relationships lead to various fundraising and volunteering opportunities for the staff, in particular’.
So just which of the very wealthy companies at Aerolink might Ty Hafan be developing ‘relationships’ with and, more importantly, why? Here are just a few of Ty Hafan’s fellow attendees:
Magellan Aerospace, with facilities in Wrexham, manufactures the CRV7 rocket weapon system (RWS) for the F-16 jet fighter and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Both were used with devastating effect by the Israeli armed forces in Israel’s recent aggression against the people of Gaza which killed upwards of 1500 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. Ms Read and the members of the corporate partnership team may have seen photos of the carnage after a UN-run school at Beit Lahia was bombarded with burning white phosphorous. What Ms Read and her team may not know is that Magellan Aerospace also manufacture the M156 Smoke missile that goes with the CRV7 system. ‘Upon detonation’, Magellan’s story goes, ‘the high explosive ruptures the warhead and disperses the white phosphorous to generate a white smoke cloud.’
General Electric (GE) has been supplying the Israeli army since 1950 and, given its gargantuan profits, wars in the Middle East are good for business. One of GE’s success stories is the F110 jet engine, used to power the F-16.
Gardner Aerospace, part of the Carlyle Group, helps build war planes, including the C-130 Hercules, the military transport plane used by the Israeli airforce operating from its Nevatim Airbase.
Thales is a specialist manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, which are used extensively by the Israeli airforce to locate targets prior to bombardment. While the Hermes 450, made by Israeli company Elbit and tested at ParcAberporth in West Wales, remains Israel’s UAV of choice, Thales will, no doubt, be keeping an eye out for opportunities to do business with the pariah state.
We wish Elizabeth Read and her colleagues a fruitful day at Aerolink. Corporations that deal in death will be grateful for the opportunity to develop relationships with a charity which helps dying children. After all, any opportunity to ‘legitimise’ their activities is always welcome. As Bob Corcoran, Chairman of the General Electric Foundation writes: ‘we look forward to working closely with schools and organizations also committed to building strong communities. The impact of these investments underscores the company’s commitment to strategic philanthropy and corporate citizenship. By applying the very best of who we are – our talent, ideas, skills, and inspiration – we will do our best to make a difference in this world.’
We’re sure you will, Bob, just as long as you can find organisations willing to accept your blood money, that is…