Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, whose weapons systems are used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), will train British RAF aircrew, it was recently announced.
Affinity Flying Services Ltd, a joint venture in the UK owned 50-50 by Elbit and US-based Kellog, Brown and Root (KBR), “won a contract from the UK Defence Ministry’s military flight training programme worth about 500 million pounds over 18 years.”
The programme, according to Reuters, “is aimed at delivering aircrew training for the 21st century.” Affinity, a subcontractor, “will provide systems and training infrastructure and maintenance and logistics support services.”
Responding to the news, Elbit Systems CEO Butzi Machlis said: “We are very proud to take part in such an important project for the UK MOD [Ministry of Defence].” According to Machlis, “the United Kingdom is one of Elbit Systems’ primary markets.”
Industry publication ‘Defense News’ described the deal as “a substantial win for KBR and its Israeli partner”, noting that “Elbit already has a footprint in the UK, most notably as Thales UK’s partner in the supply of the Watchkeeper UAV program to the British Army.”
Elbit Systems is a long-standing target of human rights campaigners. According to activists, the company “has profited greatly from supplying the Israeli military with a variety of equipment used to sustain Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people.”
An article published by Vice in 2014, as Israel was bombarding the Gaza Strip, stated that Elbit had “several weapons systems currently being used by the IDF” in its offensive. Others have described Elbit as a “notorious war profiteer”, with its shares rising 6.6% after ‘Operation Protective Edge’.