Network Opposed to Weapons and Related Production

NZ company involved in suspect military
export to Israeli Defence Force


For follow up information on this Update, see the No WARP! web page
.

17 February 2005

This No WARP! Update is focused on the Auckland based company Oscmar International Ltd and Cubic Defence Applications (CDA), a segment of US based Cubic Corporation which acquired Oscmar in 2000. They are, it seems, currently engaged in the export of NZ military technology to fulfill a contract with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) - despite Oscmar's application for an export permit related to the contract having been declined.

It is based on research and information received from local and overseas sources, including leaked CDA documents. Finding independent verification of this information has proved difficult because Oscmar is noted for its secrecy about contracts involving armed forces whose activities make them a source of particular public outrage, for example, Indonesia and Israel. Similarly, information on contracts involving the IDF is not readily available.

We have, however, been able to establish there is something going on involving Oscmar and CDA that requires public scrutiny and investigation by the relevant authorities. This Update outlines the story, as far we have been able to piece it together, to bring it to public attention; and background information has been handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for further inquiry.

In 2001, Cubic Defence Systems (as CDA was then known), put in a tender for an Advanced Combat Vehicle Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (also known as Advanced Combat Vehicle MILES, or ACVM) to the IDF. In April or May 2002 CDA was notified that its ACVM proposal had been accepted.

The Advanced Combat Vehicle MILES

The ACVM is one configuration of the various realistic shoot-to-kill combat training systems supplied by CDA and Oscmar to armed forces. Shoot-to-kill combat training systems use laser projectors and transmitters to simulate live direct fire. Cubic describes them, under the heading "The Only Experience More Real is Combat", thus: "Our combat training systems allow soldiers and pilots to train as they fight - to experience the "fog of war" with their individual weapons, tanks and aircraft in realistic combat conditions". [1] For more information about CDA and Oscmar's systems see [2] below.

The ACVM, apparently about to be supplied to the IDF, is for combat training involving soldiers and their weapons, deployed in and around Achzarit and Puma Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and the machine guns mounted on the APCs; pyrotechnic simulations of guns and anti-tank weapons; and anti-personnel and anti-vehicle land mine simulators with a range of fusing options.

The Achzarit is constructed from "combat proven modular armour"; its basic armament is a 7.62mm remote machine gun, with three secondary machine guns, and smoke grenade launchers. [3] The Puma is designed to provide protection and support to the Israeli Combat Engineer Corps in front line combat, including minefield clearance. It is armed with four 7.62mm machine guns, smoke grenade launchers, and can be fitted with assorted mine-clearance related systems such as the Rafael Carpet fuel­air explosive rocket. [4] Achzarit and Puma APCs have been used in the Occupied Territories. [5]

The ACVM contract is to update the existing IDF Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) to the newer version MILES 2000. [6]

Oscmar's involvement in the IDF ACVM contract

Oscmar's involvement in the ACVM contract is to supply the hardware and software for the Manworn Laser Detection Harness (MWLD) which is worn by each soldier. Oscmar describes this equipment as follows:

"The MWLD is comprised of two parts, head and torso harnesses that detect incoming hits (laser beams fired by the projector [on a weapon] or the umpire control gun and RF [radio frequency] from the 'detonated' mine simulator). An internal flexible radio antenna over the left shoulder is provided to receive RF signals from the mine simulators. Additionally, on the jacket harness, an Engagement Data Recorder (EDR) is mounted. The received laser beams and RF signals are converted to electrical pulses and hit details stored in the harness EDR. A high-pitched buzzer informs the player when he has been struck or had a near miss.

... A wireless IR link is provided between the harness and the transmitter mounted on the player's weapon. This wireless IR link provides status, control, and event information to be communicated between the harness and the transmitter. The "anti-cheat" feature of the harness implemented over the IR link prevents the "dead or killed" players from shooting. However, a "live" player can pick up a "dead" player's weapon and the transmitter will shoot."[7]

An image of the MWLD is at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/nwmwld.doc

Associated Oscmar components include the Radio Frequency interface (RFI), the Mini Automatic Transmitter Alignment System (MATAS) which is the boresight device used to align each Small Arms Transmitter (SAT) laser to weapons, and the Umpire Control Gun (UCG) which is used by Controllers or Umpires to control the combat training exercise. In addition to the 'kill and 'near miss' signals described for the MWLD above, the UCG also has 'resurrect' and 'reset' signals, not exactly duplicating the "realistic combat conditions" described by Cubic.

Oscmar's systems and products are an integral part of the IDF ACVM; it simply will not work without them. The supply of 800 MWLDs (and associated software and hardware) is thought to be worth around (NZ)$5,000,000 to Oscmar.

Completing the IDF ACVM contract

Completing the contract was not to prove as easy as it may at first have seemed. In late 2002, CDA was declined a "non-US content" waiver - this, one would have thought, would have precluded any further production planning and development by Oscmar, but it seems to have continued unabated despite this set back.

In March 2004, Oscmar's application for a permit to export "an Mk8 Harness [MWLD] to be used by the Israeli Ministry of Defence" was turned down by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, whose approval is needed for any items which are covered by the NZ Strategic Goods List (NZSGL). The Mk8 Harness falls within ML11 of the NZSGL: "Electronic equipment, not controlled elsewhere on the Munitions List, specially designed for military use and specially designed components therefor." [8]

When an export permit is considered, the 'Criteria for the Assessment of Export Applications' are used to determine whether or not it will be approved [9]. In this instance points 8 and 15 of the Criteria - the potential for this export to contribute to regional conflict, and the recipient country's record in international humanitarian law / the law of armed conflict - were given as the reasons for denying the application. After what appears to be considerable lobbying by Oscmar to have the decision reversed, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade notified Oscmar on 22 June that the earlier decision, to decline the export permit, would be maintained.

This further setback however, does not appear to have diminished either Oscmar or CDA's determination to fulfill the IDF ACVM contract. In July 2004 they proceeded to hatch a plan to transfer the production of the Mk8 harness to CDA in San Diego and Cubic de Mexico. In the meantime, Oscmar was to continue producing a 'small' quantity of Mk 8 harnesses to be sent to CDA for integration with the other parts of the ACVM, and for product testing.

In the following months planning became more specific - intellectual property relating to the Mk8 harness and its associated software and hardware would be transferred electronically to Cubic via their FTP (File Transfer Protocol) web site; and some tooling and test equipment would be transferred to San Diego and Mexico, while some equipment would be built on site. Sensitive material transfers, such as the prototype MWLD would be 'discreetly' hand carried by a CDA employee to San Diego. It is our understanding that the transfer of intellectual property and other material is currently underway.

Legality of Oscmar's ongoing involvement in the IDF ACVM contract

We are unable to ascertain at this point in time exactly how much NZ content there will be in the Mk8 harnesses which will be sent to the IDF later this year to fulfill the delivery part of the ACVM contract. Clearly a considerable amount of NZ made intellectual property is involved; and it is possible some NZ made components will be included. It appears that Oscmar suppliers may be used for some components for the harnesses, but it is unclear if they are based here. Oscmar employees are continuing to work on the ACVM contract, and it looks like that will continue for some months until it is complete.

Whether Oscmar and Cubic have conspired to break NZ law relating to the export of strategic goods is something for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Customs to determine. Certainly at the very least it appears they have conspired to bypass the law.

In addition to providing background information to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as mentioned earlier, letters have gone to Marian Hobbs, as Minister of Disarmament, and Phil Goff, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, urging them to instigate a full investigation into Oscmar's ongoing involvement in the IDF ACVM contract.

As a consequence of No WARP! exposing Oscmar's ongoing involvement in the IDF ACVM contract, investigations by the NZ Customs Service are currently underway.

Our thanks to everyone who helped to put this No WARP! Update together.

Further information

A week after this Update was published, an article by Helen Tunnah 'Questions over military details sent to Israel' (25 February 2005) was published in the NZ Herald. The article is available online at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?ObjectID=10112576 If you would like a paper copy of the NZ Herald article, or additional copies of this No WARP! Update, please contact No WARP! Future Updates on Oscmar's activities will be available on the web site at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/nowarp.htm


References

[1] http://www.cubic.com/cda1/Prod_&_Serv/Cmbt_Trng_Sys/index.html

[2] See for example http://www.cubic.com/cda1/Prod_&_Serv/Cmbt_Trng_Sys/Grnd_Cmbt_Trng/MILES_ 2000
/Components_AARS/index_MILES_components.html
for information about MILES and other Cubic combat training system; and http://www.oscmar.com for information about Oscmar's systems including MILES

[3] http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/achzarit.htm

[4] http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/vehicles/engineer_vehicles/puma/Puma.html

[5] See for example http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/achzarit.htm,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golani_Brigade and
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmselect/cmfaff/718/718ap10.htm

[6] http://www.isayeret.com/gear/miles/miles.htm

[7] http://www.oscmar.com - click on 'Products', then 'Infantry systems', then 'MWLD harness'

[8] http://www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/dis/nzsgl/pages/part1a.html

[9] http://www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/dis/nzsgl/pages/section4a.html#4.4.1


 
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