EU-made rockets, guns and engines risk undermining Myanmar arms embargo



(16 July 2007) The proposed transfer to Myanmar (Burma) of a military helicopter containing components and technology from as many as six European Union countries threatens to undermine an EU arms embargo on Myanmar, according to a new report issued today by Amnesty International and Saferworld.

The report, “Indian helicopters for Myanmar: making a mockery of the EU arms embargo ” (click here to access the report) cites credible sources who say that the Indian government is planning to transfer the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to Myanmar. It reveals how the Indian-manufactured helicopter would not be operational without vital components from EU Member States and highlights the urgent need for stricter EU arms controls.

Should this transfer go ahead, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK could be undermining an EU arms embargo on Myanmar in place since 1988.

Variants of the ALH attack helicopter contain rocket launchers from Belgium; rockets, guns and engines from France; brake systems from Italy; fuel tanks and gearboxes from the UK and self-protection equipment from a Swedish company. German companies have been crucial to the design development of the ALH.

“The EU embargo explicitly states that no military equipment should be supplied, either directly or indirectly, for use in Myanmar – what’s the point in having an arms embargo if it is not going to be implemented or enforced ” said Roy Isbister of Saferworld.

“Greater attention has to be given to the end-use agreements and the re-export of components from EU member states. Otherwise, these states could find themselves indirectly propping up a brutal regime which they themselves have condemned and whose violations have amounted to crimes against humanity,” added Amnesty International’s arms control researcher Helen Hughes.

Myanmar has a widely-documented record of serious human rights violations, which the United Nations has described as widespread and systematic. Such abuses include summary executions, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

In a letter to the EU Presidency (click here to read the letter) Amnesty International asked the EU to initiate immediate consultations with the Indian government. If India plans to supply or has indeed already supplied ALHs to Myanmar, EU member states should :

  • withdraw all existing export licence authorisations and refuse any new applications for any transfers of components or technology that could be used for the ALH;
  • discontinue all future production co-operation with India that might lead to transfers of embargoed equipment to Myanmar;
  • attach to all future licences for transfers of controlled goods and technology to India a strict and enforceable condition prohibiting re-export to states under embargo.

In addition to improving national and EU practice, EU member states should give their full support to current efforts to develop an international Arms Trade Treaty, establishing globally-binding rules on arms transfers in accordance with international law and human rights standards.

Where parts of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) originate from:


  • Rocket launchers – produced by Forges de Zeebrugge FZ


  • Engines – produced by Turbomecca
  • Guns – produced by GIAT
  • Rockets – from Matra Bae Dynamics


  • Supplies parts – SITEC Aerospace manufacturers components for flight/engine controls
  • Eurocopter involved in the development of the ALH


  • Brake systems – from Elettronica Aster SpA


  • Self-protection equipment – supplied by Avitronics, a company co-owned by Saab AB

United Kingdom:

  • Hydraulic package – supplied by APPH Precision Hydraulics Ltd.
  • Flotation equipment and self-sealing fuel tank systems – supplied by FPT Industries
  • Fuel tanks, flotation equipment and internal gearbox – supplied by GKN Westland

For further comment/background and interviews:

     Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
     Tel: 32-2-5021499
     Fax: 32-2-5025686
     Email: [email protected]


     Virginie Giarmana – Saferworld

     Tel: 32-2-2300828