For most consumers, the name GoreTex means water-proof jackets, hiking trousers or maybe skiing gloves. Since 1958, US-based W.L. Gore has pioneered research into fluoropolymer materials, marketing ‘high performance’ outdoor wear under the brand names GoreTex and WINDSTOPPER. However, in the shadows of its more reputable business, W.L. Gore is supplying American arms giant ITT with these specialist materials.

The material is used in ITT’s FRCS ‘umbilical’ release mechanisms, installed in fighter planes to allow the more ‘efficient’ deployment of weapons. The FRCS mechanism is manufactured at the ITT-owned EDO MBM factory in Brighton. The factory has been the focus of a five year long campaign of direct action, aiming to stop the company producing mechanisms such as the FRCS, and to highlight that even supposedly ‘minor’ weapons components play a massive part in the functioning of the military machine (see, for example, Corporate Watch’s http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3199”> Campaign Spotlight on the Smash EDO campaign).

W.L. Gore’s involvement in the development of the FRCS is by no means an incidental one. Unlike some companies who (often falsely) claim innocence because they supply raw materials or services to arms companies as part of their general business, W.L. Gore has actively worked with ITT to produce the FRCS. In a 2008 press release regarding the FRCS, Paul Hills, managing director of EDO MBM in Brighton, spoke of how “closely” ITT has been working with W.L. Gore “for a number of years” and the degree to which this has “strengthened” ITT’s market position.

The FRCS release mechanism is currently in use in the F 16 plane. The F 16 is being used by the US army in its wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as being a staple of the Israeli Air Force in its attacks in Palestine and Lebanon.

ITT has recently signed a major contract with Lockheed Martin, to supply the FRCS as a component in the F 35 multirole fighter. The IAF has been in talks since 2006 to purchase $5billion worth of F 35s from the US, to gradually replace the ageing F 16. Twenty-five F 35s may be in the IAF’s possession by 2014, continuing W. L. Gore’s complicity in international war crimes.

Original article at http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3472

Advertisements