Christian Sorensen: War Industry Muster–The Corporate Underpinnings of the Special Relationship

"Corporate Sponsored Endless War" at London's Science Museum.

Image by Alisdare Hickson via Flickr

by Christian Sorensen
Writer, Dandelion Salad
April 3, 2019

C.P. Sorensen on Mar 31, 2019

The U.S. war industry is comprised of the corporations that develop, market, and sell weapons of war and related goods & services to the Pentagon and allied regimes. In this episode of War Industry Muster we analyze the corporate underpinnings of the Special Relationship.

Supporting documentation about BAE Systems available at:


In today’s War Industry Muster, we analyze the special relationship that ties London and Washington, D.C.

The U.S. and U.K. militaries have a long history of operating and training together, even sharing military bases. Though there are defense pacts between London & Washington, D.C., the corporate underpinnings are far more integral to the special relationship. This relationship is a tragedy for both sides of the Atlantic.

It’s bad for the U.K. because it prevents London from charting an independent non-interventionist foreign policy, one that the people of the U.K. want desperately. Typically, the D.C. regime says “jump” and London says “how high?” This can be seen across the globe as London regularly orders the U.K. military, especially the British Special Air Service, to follow the U.S. Armed Forces into all types of U.S.-led wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen—you name it.

The U.S. war industry is comprised of the corporations that develop, market, and sell weapons of war and related goods & services to the Pentagon and allied regimes.

U.K. war corporations also sell to the U.S. Department of War.

The British Rolls-Royce Holdings sells a variety of aircraft engines to the War Department. Rolls-Royce engines and engineers propel U.S. Navy landing craft, Lockheed Martin cargo planes and aerial refuelers, the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft (which is made by Textron and Boeing), the Northrop Grumman E-2D early warning aircraft, and Northrop Grumman drones. Rolls-Royce also regularly gets money from the War Department to research and develop the next generation of turbine technology for U.S. military aircraft.

BAE Systems is the most powerful war corporation in the United Kingdom. Its headquarters is a stone’s throw from Whitehall, the center of the British government. BAE is deeply tied to the U.S. war industry; BAE’s most productive facilities are located in the United States. (Most productive in terms of matériel output and financial revenue.)

In the United States BAE Systems sells its expertise to the War Department for:
– ship maintenance and repair
– aircraft devices, like chaff and countermeasures and identification friend or foe (IFF) transponders

To the U.S. War Department, BAE Systems also sells:
– battle management software
– machine learning / artificial intelligence
– signals intelligence
– conversion of General Dynamics Hydra rockets into “precision” weapons
– decoys that lure incoming missiles away from fighter jets
– electronic warfare systems
– technology that detects buried mines and improvised explosive devices
– “intelligence” products for the U.S. occupation forces in Afghanistan
– radar warning receivers for Taiwan’s Lockheed Martin F-16 fleet
– vehicles, like the Bradley fighting vehicle and the M88 HERCULES vehicle (the latter of which is basically a giant tow-truck)
– and howitzers and other artillery

BAE has also run the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Tennessee and the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Virginia. These plants make explosives and ammunition.

I will link below to my supporting research, which you can peruse to get a better idea of what BAE Systems sells. (Supporting research available here.)

Purchases go both ways across the pond.

You’ll see that BAE is involved heavily in ground-based and submarine-launched nuclear weapons for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. This goes both ways, as Lockheed Martin is part of the conglomerate that runs the British Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).

London purchases a lot of weaponry from the U.S. war industry, including the Boeing AH-64 attack helicopter, the Boeing P-8 anti-submarine aircraft, Boeing missiles, General Dynamics communications systems, General Dynamics missile tubes for submarines, Raytheon air-to-air missiles, Telephonics identification friend or foe devices, and ViaSat communications systems for aircraft.

But wait, there’s more…
… including the Javelin anti-tank missile systems (made by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon), and the Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo aircraft.

One of London’s major purchases from the U.S. war industry in recent years has been the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is the most expensive weapon in history. In an effective democracy, the British public would have a say in the matter, weigh the fact that the F-35 is a costly, underperforming aircraft, and decline the purchase. But that’s not how Western “democracy” works. Matters of democracy do not interfere with matters of war profiteering.

U.K. and U.S. war corporations also operate together. For example, Data Link Solutions, a joint venture between the BAE Systems and United Technologies, produces communications equipment for aircraft and ships. (We analyzed such intra-industry cooperation in a previous episode of War Industry Muster.)

Nuclear weapons like the submarine-launched ballistic missile known as the Trident II (D5) fortify the special relationship. The Trident II is a Lockheed Martin product, but many other war corporations work on the missile:
– General Dynamics develops missile tubes for the submarines that will launch the Trident II.
– L3 sells flight test instruments.
– Northrop Grumman sells engineering and parts for the Trident launcher.
– Peraton (Herndon, VA) sells work on the reentry systems.
– Draper Labs and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer the missile’s guidance systems.
– Southern Research Institute (Birmingham, AL) sells work on thermal protection materials for the missile re-entering the atmosphere.
– And BAE sells engineering, integration, and research & development of Trident II systems.

Another corporation binding the United States and United Kingdom is QinetiQ (pronounced: kinetic), spelled Q-I-N-E-T-I-Q. The U.K. once had an organization known as the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency, or DERA. DERA was the British military’s primary research and development wing. It was comparable to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In 2001, most of DERA’s work was corporatized and turned into QinetiQ. In the autumn of 2004, QinetiQ acquired a company out of Waltham, MA, named Foster Miller, which sells robots that help analyze and diffuse explosive devices.

QinetiQ now does a lot of work for the U.S. Department of War, including robotics, controllers for drones, and mission planning software. QinetiQ’s journey shows how neoliberal economic policies, like the privatization of government functions, helps expand the U.S. war industry. (We talk in greater detail about this in the Mergers & Acquisitions episode of War Industry Muster.)

There is another key feature of the Special Relationship: the National Security Agency (NSA). The U.K.’s primary signals intelligence organization is Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. One of NSA’s most effective outposts is in the town of Cheltenham in the United Kingdom. Another is at the Air Force Station known as Menwith Hill, which is located near Harrogate, about an hour-and-a-half bike ride north of Leeds. A third is at the Air Force Station known as Croughton in Northamptonshire.

GCHQ effectively functions as a branch of NSA. And NSA is entirely captured by war corporations, such as: Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, General Dynamics, Harris, Leidos (pronounced: lie-dos), L3, ManTech, PAE, and SAIC. If NSA is captured by U.S. war corporations, and GCHQ functions as a branch of NSA, then according to the transitive property, GCHQ is captured by the very war corporations that have captured the U.S. military. This corporatized NSA-GCHQ relationship raises all sorts of questions regarding democracy, or the lack thereof, within the United Kingdom and the United States.

I concede that there are other factors, like the financial sector, linking London with the D.C. regime. But war corporations play a huge role and are often overlooked.

Today we’ve analyzed some of the corporate pillars that define the U.S.-U.K. “special relationship.” No matter what, the special relationship does not serve the people in the U.K. or in the U.S. Just as war doesn’t serve the people. War is a racket.

Christian Sorensen is a novelist and independent journalist. His work focuses on the U.S. war industry. His new book is Understanding the War Industry. Support Christian on Patreon. His website is War Industry Muster.

From the archives:

Christian Sorensen: War Industry Muster–War Is A Racket

Will Griffin: How the U.S. Military Shaped Global Capitalism

Will Griffin: Militarism is Capitalism

Anything War Can Do, Peace Can Do Better by David Swanson

What If Governments Obeyed Laws? by David Swanson + Merchants of Death: How the Military-Industrial Complex Profits from Endless War

End Game: The War Machine Goes On, Part 4 by Arthur D. Robbins

The Great American Perpetual Motion War Machine by Greg Maybury