ATK - war is hell... unless you're making money
Alliant Techsystems, Inc.
This maker of gunpowder, smart bombs, and rocket propulsion systems makes money every time one of their products explodes, maims or kills. The company has a vested interest in a militarized world, turning a $1.8 billion annual profit off a wartorn global landscape. As of June 2003, UTIMCO has $586,090 invested in Alliant-Techsystems.
For the last 50 or 60 years, Alliant-Techsystems has been a division of Honeywell, Inc. manufacturing weapons and ammunition. In 1990, Alliant-Tech was spun-off to perform on its own and to divert attention from Honeywell. Alliant-Tech, also known as ATK, is now the largest small ammunition manufacturer in the world. Overall it is the 25th largest department of defense contractor in the US. The company is pleased to report that they have leading market positions in propulsion, composite structures, munitions, and precision capabilities.
Thanks to a resurgence in militancy around the world, Alliant-Tech is one of the few companies posting higher profits than last year. Sales have increased by $700,000 to $1.8 billion. Overall assets have more than doubled from $880 million to $2.2 billion in only a year. Highs in stocks occurred for the company in 1995, 1998, and 2002. In 1995, the then record was after major layoffs, in 1998 was due to the United States' involvement in Kosovo, and in 2002 for the "War on Terrorism." Over the last ten years, the stock has done considerably better, especially since George W. Bush took office. The value of the stock also exceeded the record-breaking stock market of the late 90’s. Alliant-Tech is the 23rd largest supplier to the Department of Defense. It has operations in 23 different US congressional districts, with international sales offices in 44 countries, six in the Arabian Peninsula and one in Pakistan (here is a map.)
From the year of its independence and 1995, Alliant-Tech cut out half of its workers to inflate its stock value. Many of these employees claimed that Alliant-Tech even fired these workers due to their age, race, gender and national origin. In 1994, an affirmative-action audit found faults in the company’s affirmative-action record-keeping, planning and reporting.
The ATK workplace itself is also unsafe. In one of their buildings, Twin City Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) in New Brighton/Arden Hills, Minnesota, there was evidence that depleted uranium was spilt on the floor. A web page covered the story in its entirety but has since been removed. Part of it was recovered and moved to another website. (See the story.)
During the 1990’s, Alliant-Tech was sued three times by the US government. It decided to settle and dole out $12 million for environmental infractions and $4.5 million to dismiss charges that managers instructed workers to charge inflated work hours on defense missile contracts. Alliant-Tech was also suspected of overcharging the government in an $82 million tank ammunition contract. They spent $228,750 to settle these allegations. Alliant received $723.6 million in new contracts in 2000 alone. The company says two cases came with subsidiaries it purchased, and all were settled. It has gotten itself out of anti-trust lawsuits, such as when it "price fixed" with Aerojet General (since these were the only two US producers of a certain munitions system, they agreed to an illegal deal) in their 1992 contracts to produce cluster bombs (Aerojet made the outside, or container of the bomb, and Alliant made the inside called the bomblet, or sub-munition portion.) In a 1994 case, the US government convicted both companies; each settled in 1997 and agreed paid more than $2.5 million. A few months after the settlement, both companies were granted new contracts to produce these cluster bombs together.
The company is making guidance systems for the Trident Missile, one of the deadliest nuclear weapons to date. On July 23, 2002, they were also awarded $12 million to supply composite parts for the F-22 Raptor, the U.S. Air Force's next-generation of stealthy air dominance fighter. Alliant-Tech is part of a team consisting of Alcoa, Inc. (from whom they purchased Thiokol Propulsion in 1995 which strengthened its presence in propulsion and composite structures), Cincinnati Machine, Cytec Engineered Materials, Nova-Tech Engineering, and Parker Aerospace. Over the years, Alliant-Tech has made numerous business deals that continually strengthen its already high position in the market of munitions.
This company prides itself on mass producing every type of conventional weapon in addition to nuclear weaponry. Cluster bombs and landmines are most commonly associated with this company. For the former, the army estimates 5% of the bomblets fail to explode on initial contact as designed. Other experts put the rate as high as 20%. This means for every 1,000 pound bomb dropped, 10 to 40 live bomblets are left on the ground waiting to explode if picked up or disturbed. The sub-munition bomblets are painted bright yellow, the same color as the humanitarian food/aid packages dropped in Afghanistan by the US.
Simply put, Alliant-Tech profits from war. When Paul David Miller, CEO of Alliant-Tech, was asked about the company's 1999 profits, he said that for certain "business" reasons, profits were not as high as desired. However, he did admit that the Kosovo war was quite profitable.