14 December marks the 18-month anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy which killed 72 people. The public inquiry is ongoing. But one company that manufactured the cladding – widely thought to have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire – also has links to arms manufacturers BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin.
On 12 December, Arconic is due to give its closing statement to the Grenfell inquiry. It provided “almost 7,000 sq metres” of the cladding used in the Grenfell refurbishment. As the Guardian reported, Arconic claimed these panels were “at most, a contributing factor” in the spread of the fire. But this contradicts evidence from fire safety experts:
Dr Barbara Lane concluded Arconic’s product Reynobond 55PE “contributed to the most rapid of the observed external fire spread” and said the cladding system, including the insulation, was “substantially to blame for the tragedy”. Prof Luke Bisby said the panels were “the primary cause of upward vertical fire spread, downward vertical fire spread, and lateral fire spread.
Yet this isn’t the company’s only link to death and destruction.
Weapons of mass destruction
Arconic’s website proudly lists manufacture for parts in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II fighter jet and a number of other links to the defence industry. Its director Elmer Doty was formerly executive vice president of BAE Systems.
Air force chiefs presented image of the jets over Beirut, Lebanon, saying that they had “already attacked twice on two different fronts.” Israel has received nine of the 50 F-35s it has so far ordered, but could buy up to 75.
BAE Systems is the world’s fourth-largest arms manufacturer, As CAAT explains, BAE builds and sells “fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles and small arms ammunition”: used in deadly conflicts around the world:
BAE’s warplanes are playing a central role in Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen. Its armoured vehicles were used by Saudi Arabia in Bahrain to support the repression of democracy protests in 2011.
On 9 August, a Saudi-led coalition bomb, supplied by Lockheed Martin, hit a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 children and 11 adults. This was one tragedy in a brutal war that is, according to the UN, the ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ in the world.
As rapper and activist Lowkey pointed out, we can’t ignore these links:
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) December 9, 2018
In 2018, US-based Arconic reported revenue of $3.6bn. Elliott Management Corp, “the activist hedge fund” and largest shareholder behind Arconic, is currently trying to buy out the company. Reportedly this is to limit a drop in share price linked to potential liability ahead of the Grenfell inquiry findings. But until our government ends all arms sales and companies like this cease to trade, we need to know just how they profit. Because there’s no question: Arconic’s profit is drenched blood.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?