Sunday, August 15, 2010

Raytheon set to capture another SA school

Rumour has it that US arms manufacturer Raytheon is about to move into yet another South Australian school.

Apparently staff at Hallett Cove R-12 School were told that the school was going to have a relationship with a “defence” company – Raytheon.

No further information was forthcoming.

Across the suburbs at Aberfoyle Park, home to one of three SA schools that host the government-funded IGNITE program for students with high intellectual potential, Raytheon entered into a 3 year partnership with the school worth $450,000.

In return for supplying the IGNITE students with personal laptops, the arms manufacturer was given access to students in order to mentor them towards maths and science studies, with a view to promoting engineering as a career path. (See previous post Masters of war invade the classroom).

According to an article on CNET News (At Raytheon, where engineering rules), engineering is “the lifeblood of the company”.

It’s a strange metaphor for a company that specialises in killing, or at least, in providing the means to do so.

The article points out that at Raytheon “more than 40,000 of the total 75,000 employees are engineers, and the company is hiring thousands more each year.”

On July 20, 2010 Raytheon announced that it had successfully tested a ship borne killer laser to knock four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) out of the sky.

(Above, a "doctored" Raytheon photo showing the invisible infra-red ray intercepting the path of a UAV with white curving vapour trail.)

Unlike conventional weapons for which a weighty and space-consuming magazine of armaments has to be on hand, the laser weapon “offers the military a very cost-efficient and nearly unlimited ‘magazine’ for shooting down things like threatening UAVs, or perhaps airplanes.”

“Or perhaps”, indeed!

Things don’t get much better on land, either.

On July 25, 2010 reported that Raytheon had delivered three “Active Denial Systems” or heat-ray guns (see below) to the US military, which had deployed them for the first time in Afghanistan in June.

“The ray-gun is a joystick-operated computerized system linked to a large antenna that can be mounted on a Humvee or other large vehicles. It directs a focused, invisible 100,000-watt beam of energy at the speed of light across a range of up to 250 meters, or 750 feet, at human beings, burning them intolerably until they get out of the beam's way. The heat ray penetrates the skin to a depth of about 1/64th of an inch” according to the report.

Raytheon expects the technology to jump from the battlefield to civilian use. "Various commercial and military applications include law enforcement, checkpoint security, facility protection, force protection and peacekeeping missions," Raytheon's website says.

The article added: “The system was never used in Iraq because it was found to be politically risky. In light of the Abu Ghraib prison-torture scandal, the ray-gun was seen as too closely evoking a form of torture. Curiously, those issues were set aside when the weapon was shipped to Afghanistan, signaling a distance from the Abu Ghraib scandal that the military will now more likely exploit.”

In addition to pioneering the use of ray guns as weapons of modern warfare, Raytheon continues to manufacture such old technology weapons as Maverick, Sparrow, Sidewinder, Tomahawk, Hawk, Patriot and Sea Sparrow missiles.

It must surely be with an acute sense of irony that a Raytheon executive told journalist Daniel Terdiman “Our end customer is that kid in Iraq whose life may depend on what we build, so we want it to be 100 percent”.

It’s comforting to know that the kids of Australia are being groomed to work for a death merchant whose “end customer is that kid in Iraq”!

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