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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)

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 manufacturers 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, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Iraq". On 9 August 2016, the US Department of Defense revealed that 153 more of these "popular" tanks were to be sold to Saudi Arabia. General Dynamics also delivers the AJAX family of armoured fighting vehicles to the British Army.

Its "IS&T division" 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."

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.

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

The company has defended its role in the face of public opposition and demonstrations. Students and staff at the University of California have urged the University administration to sever their contracts with General Dynamics. Scottish Trade unions Unison and Unite have called for Scottish Pension Funds to be withdrawn from General Dynamics.

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

General Dynamics in Hastings

In 2004 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.

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.

According to the local General Dynamics website,