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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
BAE goes big on 'green' weapons
BAE's Eurofighter firing its afterburners
More efficient jet fuel for fighter aircraft is one of the developments
Reduced-lead bullets and recyclable explosives are among the developments being put forward by arms manufacturer British Aerospace (BAE) as part of a major investment in ecologically-sound weaponry.

The company, one of the world's biggest arms-makers, says it has been making investments in creating products that reduce the collateral damage of warfare.

"We're looking across a range of all the platforms and areas we produce, and trying to improve all the mechanisms," Deborah Allen, director of corporate responsibility for the company, told BBC World Service's Culture Shock programme.

"Everything from looking at making a fighter jet more fuel-efficient and looking at the materials that munitions are made of and what their impact on the environment would be."

Bang-free bomb

BAE stress that the point of these developments is to make sure that they minimise the wider impact of the weapon's use.

In some cases, the weapons have been changed to reduce collateral damage and to make sure they are as accurate as possible.

BAE Terrier vehicle, used for demolitions and obstacle clearance
We all have a duty of care to ensure that from cradle to grave products are being used appropriately and do not do lasting harm
Deborah Allen, BAE
In others, the environment has been the key factor. The idea behind the lead-free bullets, for example, is that if they get lodged in the environment, they "do not cause any additional harm".

Ms Allen said that this is partly a response to people becoming more environmentally aware.

"No company, regardless of what they make, can now just make a product, bung it out there, and then forget about it," she said.

"We all have a duty of care to ensure that from cradle to grave products are being used appropriately and do not do lasting harm."

Another of BAE's ideas is what has been described as a "bang-free bomb".

In fact, although the explosion is quieter, the bomb has been re-engineered so the risk to the user of exposure to the bomb's fumes is reduced.

"This is to ensure they are safe to use, that they only go off when they are supposed to go off, and that they do the minimum of collateral damage," said Ms Allen.

"What we have to do is ensure that the person deploying the bomb is not going to be put at extra risk for using it.

"These things are going to be used, and that, unfortunately, is an aspect of the modern world. We just have to make sure that our customer is safe using these things."


Future trends analyst Sarah Bentley told Culture Shock that she thought the changes to the weapons were a "very good thing."

BAE are developing landmines which turn into manure over time
"Unfortunately, as much as we hate the idea of war, it is a reality of life and it does happen," she said.

"I think it's only going to be beneficial if, for example, explosives have a limited shelf life, which does away with the problem of landmines exploding anything up to 20 years after the initial deployment has taken place."

For example, she cited explosives that eventually turn into manure, which essentially "regenerate the environment that they had initially destroyed."

"It is very ironic and very contradictory, but I do think, surely, if all the weapons were made in this manner it would be a good thing."

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