The cluster bomb producer, Textron is in the final stages of reaching a deal with India for 510 of the weapons at an estimated cost of $375 million, reports Boston Globe journalist, Bryan Bender. The Sensor Fuzed Weapon is designed to spray 40 individual projectiles of molten copper, destroying enemy tanks across a 30-acre swath of battlefield. But the bomb – which is made at a Textron facility in the Boston suburb of Wilmington – violates terms of a landmark international treaty limiting cluster bombs to 10 bomblets or less. The pending treaty, signed by 98 nations last year in Oslo, has been sought for decades by human rights groups, which say that cluster bombs kill indiscriminately and leave behind duds that kill or maim unsuspecting civilians.
The US Air Force has purchased 4,600 of the new weapons, at a cost of several billion dollars. Textron has also sold them to Turkey, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. According to comments appeared in Bostong Globe, If Texton sells 510 of these weapons to India for a total cost of $375 million, then that averages out to a cost of about $735,000 per weapon.
Now Textron, with the support of the Pentagon and the State Department, is mounting a campaign to derail the cluster-bomb treaty and write a new set of rules under the United Nations that would make it easier to sell its weapon around the world. The United States is among several major powers including Russia, China, and Israel that have refused to sign the Oslo treaty.
The initiative has outraged many arms control advocates, however, who secured signatures from Britain, France, and 96 other countries at last year’s Oslo negotiations. The treaty needs to be ratified by 30 countries to take effect; so far, 17 of them have done so.
“It’s a disgraceful attempt to throw mud at the most important achievement in humanitarian affairs and disarmament in the last decade,’’ said Thomas Nash, coordinator of the London-based Cluster Munition Coalition, a network of 400 nongovernmental organizations from about 90 countries.
Nations that do not sign the treaty could have trouble selling their weapons. Cluster bombs made by Diehl and Rheinmetall in Germany and by Bofors Defence and GIAT Industries in France meet the requirements of the treaty, with two bomblets contained in each. They would be expected to pick up market share at Textron’s expense if the treaty is ratified as written.
Textron Defense Systems is a division of the Providence-based conglomerate Textron Inc., which makes products as diverse as helicopters and passenger planes and defense and intelligence systems. It had annual revenue of more than $14 billion in 2008. Textron has a major presence at Bangalore, India employing more than 200 executives in engineering, business development