BAE Systems is one of the world’s largest arms producers, with sales of $24 billion to military customers in 2020, 97% of its total sales.
The company is headquartered in UK and has a large number of staff in both the UK and US. Its sales are dominated by three markets: the US, which accounted for 43% of BAE’s sales between 2017-2021, the UK (20%), and Saudi Arabia (14%).
BAE’s portfolio includes combat aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles, small arms ammunition, cyber & intelligence, and nuclear missile submarines. It has a 33% share in the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft programme, and a 37.5% stake in MBDA, Europe’s dominant missile manufacturer. In 2019 Rheinmetall acquired 55% of BAE’s combat vehicles business and the two companies established the RBSL joint venture.
Saudi Arabia and Yemen
BAE’s Typhoon and Tornado aircraft have been central to Saudi Arabia’s devastating attacks on Yemen – attacks that have killed thousands and created a humanitarian disaster. Further Typhoon aircraft have been delivered to Saudi Arabia during the bombing and BAE and the UK government are pushing hard for a new contract.
BAE has 6,300 staff in Saudi Arabia to support the operational capabilities of the Saudi armed forces. In 2016, during the attacks on Yemen, the company stated that “the Group’s extensive in-Kingdom training and support activities are at a high tempo. The Royal Saudi Air Force has achieved high utilisation and aircraft availability across its Typhoon and Tornado fleets, operating under demanding conditions.”
Complaint to International Criminal Court: In December 2019, a coalition of European and Yemeni groups submitted a complaint to the International Criminal Court in The Hague asking for an investigation into whether senior arms company executives and government officials may be responsible for aiding and abetting war crimes in Yemen. The complaint listed BAE Systems, Leonardo, Airbus, Dassault, Raytheon UK, RWM Italia, MBDA, and Thales.