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The principal arms manufacturer in Hastings is the UK branch of an American company - General Dynamics. It has about 200 employees in Hastings, on three sites. Their principal production facility is at 100 Castleham Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 9NJ.

John Phillip Holland
The following information about General Dynamics is mainly supplied by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and by Global Justice Now.

According to the latest ranking by SIPRI, General Dynamics is the sixth-largest arms company in the world.

General Dynamics started out as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company, founded by John Phillip Holland, an Irish immigrant to the United States. His company built the US Navy's first submarine (1897).
Owing to the delay in payments between ordering and delivering submarines, Holland ran short of capital and had to sell his company to a financier Isaac Leopold Rice, who renamed it the Electric Boat Company in 1899.

Holland was demoted to chief engineer earning $90 a week, while his submarines were sold for $300,000 each. He left the company in 1904.

During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), faithful to the traditions of the arms trade, the Electric Boat Company made a large profit by selling submarines to both the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Imperial Russian Navy!

After World War II the company diversified, buying a Canadian aircraft company, and changing its name in 1952 to General Dynamics. The development of the F-111 and F-16 military aircraft established the company as a major arms manufacturer.

In 2008 General Dynamics paid 4 million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Government for supplying defective components for submarines and military aircraft.

General Dynamics now states that it "is a global aerospace and defence company... [it produces] submarines to wheeled combat vehicles to communications systems".

The company is divided into four main divisions: aerospace, combat systems, IS&T (information systems and technology) and marine systems. Its "combat systems" division manufactures armoured vehicles, tanks, artillery and ammunition.
General Dynamics manufactures the Abrams Tank. They claim "the Abrams remains the top tank choice today for the U.S. Army, U.S. National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps. It is also popular with several international armies, including Egypt, Kuwait, Australia and Iraq". Saudi Arabia is a major customer, to whom General Dynamics also supplies light armoured vehicles to light armoured vehicles. Political objections to the latter deal may cost General Dynamics dearly.

General Dynamics is also under contract to supply 589 AJAX armoured fighting vehicles to the British Army. According to MPs on the Public Accounts Committee in 2021, a total of £4bn had already been spent on the heavily delayed Ajax out of "whole life costs of £5.5bn," yet only 14 vehicles - 2% of the total requirement – had been delivered by General Dynamics for testing.
The MoD had planned for the Ajax to initially enter service in the summer of 2021; but this date was not met and the issues over vibration and noise are so serious that 310 service personnel were undergoing tests to see if their hearing had been permanently damaged. These problems dated back to December 2018 but the MPs voiced concern that the MoD was still in the dark about the cause. "Despite the length of time the department has known about this issue, there is still no definitive information on the source of the noise and vibration," the PAC said.The future of the contract is dubious.

General Dynamics "IS&T division" also has "an established global presence in secure communications systems, command and control systems, imagery sensors and cyber products." .
General Dynamics' "Marine Systems" division manufactures some of the US Navy's most formidable surface warships and submarines. It built the Ohio-class submarines which carry the US Navy strategic nuclear strike force missiles,including Trident, and is developing the 12 Ohio Replacement submarines which "will provide strategic deterrent capabilities well into the 2080s."

Bath Iron Works is part of General Dynamics and specialises in the construction of warships. Bath Iron Works has been commissioned to install hypersonic missiles on three US destroyers. These missiles travel faster than the speed of light, and can be manoeuvered in flight to evade interception.
Click here to connect with US campaign to convert Bath Iron Works to peaceful products.
General Dynamics has formed a partnership with the Israeli firm Elbit Systems to provide unmanned drones for US forces. Elbit markets its drones as battle-tested in attacks on Gaza.
General Dynamics has acquired Bluefin Robotics, manufacturer of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs), expanding its portfolio in the field of UUVs.
Click here to read about General Dynamics work on nuclear weapons systems.

General Dynamics - Lobbying

This information has been provided by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

General Dynamics spent over $13 million dollars on lobbying in 2020. Of this, it reported spending $10.7 million on lobbying itself, with the other $3.2 million spent hiring external lobby firms. It hired:
  • Alignment Government Strategies ($120,000)
  • American Continental Group ($220,000)
  • American Defense International, Inc. ($200,000)
  • Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz /The Daschle Group ($60,000)
  • C. Baker Consulting, Incorporated ($120,000)
  • Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc. ($400,000)
  • CTF Global LLC (formerly filing as The Grossman Group, LLC) ($60,000)
  • Ervin Hill Strategy ($270,000)
  • FifeStrategies, LLC ($280,000)
  • Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy, LLC ($200,000)
  • Harbinger Strategies, LLC ($200,000)
  • Innovative Federal Strategies, LLC ($160,000)
  • Meltsner Strategies, LLC ($120,000)
  • Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough ($150,000)
  • PRASAM ($200,000)
  • Subject Matter (fka Elmendorf Ryan) ($200,000)
  • Turner Pollard Strategies, LLC ($27,500)
  • Van Scoyoc Associates ($180,000)
General Dynamics also held four meetings with UK ministries, including one with the Ministry of Defence in 2020.

General Dynamics - Maladministration

Most of the following information has been provided by the War Resisters' International:

In the 1970s the Electric Boat operation (part of General Dynamics) was severely criticized by US Admiral Hyman Rickover for the poor quality of its work and the magnitude of its cost overruns. General Dynamics was also criticized for its work on the M-1 tank and Tomahawk cruise missile. A $57 billion deal to build the A-12 Navy attack plane along with McDonnell Douglas was scrapped by the Pentagon in 1991 over delays and cost overruns said to be caused by the companies.

Tensions between General Dynamics and the US Navy reached a point in 1985 at which the company was twice suspended for a period of time from accepting new contracts. The first suspension was a response to overbilling disputes, while the second came after the company and four former or current executives were indicted on fraud charges relating to a contract with the US Army to produce the Sergeant York anti-aircraft gun.

Among the revelations were that the company was billing the Pentagon for dog-kennel fees incurred by one executive and country-club dues paid by another (the case was later dismissed).

A 1986 article in Fortune magazine noted that General Dynamics was to many American newspaper readers the symbol of waste and corruption in military spending.

In 1990 the U.S. Justice Department sued General Dynamics, charging that the company defrauded the Army on contracts for M-1 tanks. The company paid $8 million to settle the case.

In the mid-1990s numerous press reports suggested that General Dynamics had bribed South Korean President Roh Tae Woo to bring about a deal in which his country agreed to spend $5 billion on the company's F-16 fighter jets.

The Stryker 8-wheel infantry carrier vehicle (ICV), sold by General Dynamics Land Systems, incorporates the Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform (RIwP) developed by Moog, an American arms company involved, against local opposition, in opportunistic property development in the UK.

Click here for a list of financial and other offences committed by General Dynamics and subsidiary companies

Theresa May's family is said to have financial links to General Dynamics.

General Dynamics' Environmental Record

Fire at General Dynamics plant
In January 2008 Electric Boat (part of General Dynamics) signed a consent order with the state of Connecticut and paid $75,000 to settle violations relating to the discharge of pollutants into river water. The action came after the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, responding to a report in the Hartford Courant about lax enforcement of water pollution regulations by Connecticut officials, said it would sue various companies for violations.

Earlier environment controversies involving General Dynamics include a $13,600 fine imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 for the improper disposal of PCB-contaminated clothing; a penalty of $105,000 paid in 1992 to settle hazardous waste violations at a company facility in Arizona; and a $50,000 fine paid to California in connection with a spill of hazardous waste at a company plant in San Diego.

General Dynamics and the Trump Administration

General Dynamics has been criticised for involvement in the administration of President Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents who had been arrested for crossing the US border illegally. In some cases the children were held in insanitary or dangerous conditions.

Public opposition forced the Trump administration to abandon that policy, but many of the families will never be reunited because the parents had already been deported.

General Dynamics has defended its role in the face of public opposition and demonstrations. The company has been accused of buying the support of local politicians, and of misapplying tax credits it received for training purposes. Students and staff at the University of California have urged the University administration to sever their contracts and divest from General Dynamics. US teachers have called for their pension funds to be withdrawn from General Dynamics. Scottish Trade unions Unison and Unite have called for Scottish Pension Funds to be withdrawn from General Dynamics.

For further information about the involvement of General Dynamics in Immigrant Detention, see the website of Global Justice Bexhill and Hastings.

US Opposition to General Dynamics as an Arms Company

US activists have protested at the General Dynamics annual shareholders' meeting.

Environmentalists in Bath, Maine, are calling for the conversion of their local General Dynamics plant, Bath Iron Works, to peaceful production.

Their initial proposal to build a massive off-shore wind farm was shelved for lack of state support, despite extensive backing from employees.
A fresh proposal has since been put forward, which does not involve the participation of Bath Iron Works.

The campaign to convert Bath Iron Works to peaceful production continues unabated.

Canadian Opposition to General Dynamics

Canadians campaign against the transport, by road and by rail of tanks, manufactured in Hamilton, Ontario, by General Dynamics Land Systems, to Saudi Arabia in support of their war against the people of Yemen.

A Fresh Start?

Good News: Bath Iron Works, a branch of General Dynamics has started to produce coronavirus testing equipment.

General Dynamics in Hastings

Supporters of Global Justice Bexhill & Hastings protest against GD support for Trump's immigration policy.
General Dynamics plants in the UK are concentrated in areas of high unemployment - Hastings, Caerphilly, Chippenham and Merthyr Tydfil - where workers can be readily dismissed and replaced.

About twenty years ago General Dynamics bought a Hastings company, Computing Devices Hastings Ltd, founded by William Charles Uttley-Moore. Uttley-Moore was briefly retained as CEO, but was soon replaced.

The Hastings firm had been involved in the development of the Direct Voice Input (DVI) System for the Eurofighter/Typhoon. This was the earliest DVI unit in production for a military cockpit. It provided voice control over dozens of aircraft controls.

According to the General Dynamics website, their Hastings site now provides avionic systems for the Eurofighter Typhoon, Tornado, AgustaWestland AW101 Mk 3 and Mk4 and AW159 Wildcat (Future Lynx) platforms, and tactical communications equipment for ground vehicles.

Leidos and the UK Census

General Dynamics has ties with Leidos, the US arms dealer which has been entrusted with the contract for processing the 2021 UK census forms.
  • Roger Krone, the present Chairman and CEO of Leidos, worked for 14 years for General Dynamics.
  • John Slota, former Vice President of Defence Strategy and Business Development Operations at Leidos, left in 2020 to join General Dynamics Information Technology as VP and Chief Growth Officer.
  • In 2018 Leidos and General Dynamics won a five-year, 200 million dollar shared contract to provide technical expertise in support of U.S. Army geospatial programmes. This includes the provision of direct geospatial support to the military and the development of geospatial enterprise systems for the Army, Department of Defence and external organizations.
Leidos' ethical record is questionable -
  • It was reported in 2018 that a supervisor at Leidos made "inappropriate sexual and racial comments" to a female contractor. The U.S. Secretary of Defense was advised to "consider appropriate action against Leidos" such as "compensatory damages, including back pay, employee benefits and other terms and conditions of employment" to be paid to the contractor.
  • In 2018, Leidos donated to the Senate campaign of Cindy Hyde-Smith. However, after a video was released showing Hyde-Smith speaking fondly of participating in "public hangings", Leidos said the company would never have made the donation if it had known about the comment. During Hyde-Smith's 2020 re-election bid, Leidos again donated to her. Hyde-Smith was one of the six US Senators who voted to overturn Biden's 2021 victory in Arizona, which sealed his election as President.
Read a whistle-blower's refusal to continue working for General Dynamics.