U.S. Air Force’s B-1B Lancer unleashes cluster munitions
In order to distance itself from weapons commonly associated with civilian casualties, Northrop Grumman has said it will not undertake a U.S. government cluster bomb contract.
The country or military to which the contract has not been spelt out but is suspected to be with Saudi Arabia.
Kathy Warden, Northrop CEO, said during a quarterly earnings call Thursday that the contract involves “testing of cluster munition components” and is “structured to help remove cluster munitions safely.”
While the company does not make these bombs, she says, “We recognize that even supporting an area like cluster munitions for investors is of concern, because safe removal implies that at one point there was an embracing of the use of these products.”
Her comments echo the views of the Biden administration which has frozen a munitions deal to Saudi Arabia besides an F-35 one to the U.A.E. previously okayed by Trump, for their involvement in the Yemen War.
Cluster munitions are air or ground launched bombs that eject smaller submunitions that spread indiscriminately over a wide area. Unexploded weapons can kill or maim civilians and/or unintended targets long after a conflict has ended, and are costly to locate and remove.
For the unbeknownst, while the U.S. cluster bombed Laos between 1964-1973 (one planeload of ordnance every 8 minutes), the undetonated bomblets still kill over a hundred civilians each year.
“When we look at our portfolio, we are going to continue to recognize, we support our government and our allies in the important work of enabling our troops to do their work, but at the same time, be thoughtful about potential human rights implications, and how these technologies may be used in the future and provides equal consideration to safeguards associated with them,” Warden said.