A US multinational manufacturer of communications, surveillance, avionics, aerospace, and navigation products. Its surveillance equipment is used in military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as by US Customs and Border Protection on the US-Mexico border and by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
L3 Technologies (formerly L-3 Communications Holdings) is a U.S.-based aerospace and defense contractor that manufactures surveillance, reconnaissance and communications systems used for military and homeland security applications. In 2017, the company reported $9.573 billion in net sales, and Defense News and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) listed L3 as the twelfth largest weapons manufacturer in the world in terms of total arms sales and revenue. The United States Department of Defense is L3’s largest customer, generating 66% of the company’s annual sales in 2017. Contracts with foreign governments brought in 15% of the company’s sales, of which 4% were foreign military sales (FMS) contracts.
In 2019, the company plans a merger with Harris Corporation, a security communications, surveillance and electronics company which equips the US-Mexico border with surveillance equipment and supplies US Customs and Border Protection as well as the Israeli military with communication equipment. In 2017, Harris Corporation was listed as the 19th largest defense contractor in the world and the potential merger is expected to make the corporation the seventh largest weapons manufacturer globally.
L3 Weapons Systems Sold to Israel
L3 manufactured the integrated platform management systems of the Northrop Grumman Sa’ar 5 and 6 Corvettes, missile ships used by the Israeli Navy to maintain the siege of Gaza and to protect Israeli natural gas fields and shipping lanes.
In 2012, L3’s US-based subsidiary KDI Precision Products participated in a $647 million contract to sell at least 11,500 precision bomb fuses for Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) guided-bomb tail kits to Israel through the US foreign military sales program.
In 2011, L3 Combat Propulsion Systems (formerly a division of General Dynamics Land Systems) contracted to supply diesel engines for ground combat vehicles to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. L3 has specifically produced engines for the Israeli Merkava IV battle tank.
In 2005, Lockheed Martin contracted L3 for up to $200 million to develop the Panoramic Cockpit Display for the F-35 fighter aircraft, of which Israel has ordered 50. The sale has an estimated completion date of 2022.
Collaboration with Israel’s Military Industry
In May 2018, Canadian subsidiary L3 MAS announced that it had partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a major state-owned Israeli defense company, to offer the Artemis Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Artemis UAS is based on IAI’s flagship drone, the Heron TP (also known as the Eitan).
L3 division Narda Miteq is represented in Israel through Elina Electronic Engineering, an Israeli technology distribution company.
Use of L3 Equipment in Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and War Crimes
Merkava tanks carrying L3 engines, JDAM kits with L3 electronic fuses, and Hermes and Heron drones that L3 introduced to Canada have been used repeatedly in Israeli attacks on densely populated civilian areas, resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties in Lebanon and Gaza. The Israeli Navy also uses Sa’ar missile ships with L3 systems to maintain the siege of Gaza. The human rights community, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and United Nations commissions, has ruled these attacks to be human rights violations, collective punishment, and at times war crimes.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, Israel used Merkava Armored Personnel Carriers in the invasion to Lebanon in 2006. Between July 12th and August 14th 2006, Israel conducted a ground and aerial bombardment of Lebanon that severely damaged civilian infrastructure and killed 1,183 people, of whom approximately one third were children. Israeli forces targeted apartment buildings, villages, plants, bridges, seaports, and other key features of Lebanon’s infrastructure. According to a report published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Israel violated international humanitarian law by failing to take care to prevent civilian casualties during its airstrikes on Lebanese infrastructure.
The Israeli Navy uses Sa’ar 5 missile ships to enforce the illegal naval siege of the Gaza Strip, including during the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza (“Operation Cast Lead”) in which 1,394 Palestinians were killed, 345 of whom were minors. Israel limits Gaza fishermen to an area no wider than 3 to 6 miles off the coast, severely limiting their access to fishing. The restriction is in contravention of the Oslo Agreements which state that Gaza fishermen should have a clearance of 20 nautical miles off the coast. Even when within the 3 and 6 mile boundaries, Gaza fishermen risk being attacked by Israeli naval vessels, which have killed and injured fishermen and damaged or confiscated their boats. Multiple leading human rights organizations (here, here, and here) consider the siege of the Gaza Strip to be collective punishment in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international law. In 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon condemned the blockade and called for accountability. A Sa’ar ship also participated in the Israeli attack on the unarmed Free Gaza Flotilla in 2010, resulting in the killing of 10 humanitarian activists. In November 2017, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda reaffirmed that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed by some members of the Israel Defence Forces” during the attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla in 2010. The Israeli Navy also used Sa’ar ships to enforce a naval blockade on Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon war.
RAND Corporation reported that Israel also used Merkava 4 battle tanks in Israel’s 2012 assault on Gaza (“Operation Protective Edge”). The attack killed 174 Palestinians, of whom 101 were civilians and 33 were children. Israeli forces targeted civilian infrastructure including residential buildings, farmlands, hospitals, and schools. According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Israeli forces failed to respect “the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions, as required by international humanitarian law.”
In 2014, Israel used Merkava tanks to conduct an attack on Gaza called “Operation Protective Edge” that killed 2,251 Palestinians, of whom 1,462 were civilians and 551 were children. As a result of the attack, over 1,500 Palestinian children were orphaned and 11,231 people were injured, of whom 3,436 were children. Defense for Children International documented that artillery and tank shelling killed at least 81 children during Operation Protective Edge. Israeli soldiers reported using tanks to purposefully destroy Palestinian agricultural lands. The Israeli military also used Hermes 900 drones, which L3 brought to the Canadian military, during Operation Protective Edge to conduct airstrikes and provide intelligence in Gaza. Israeli drone strikes killed 840 people in 2014, and Defense for Children International documented that drones were responsible for the deaths of at least 164 children during the operation itself. According to a report by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Israeli forces may have violated international human rights law and committed war crimes on numerous occasions because of their apparent disregard for the preservation of civilian life.
During the 2014 assault, the Israeli military targeted civilian homes and other targets with one-ton bombs equipped with JDAM guiding systems. In its report on Operation Protective Edge, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that the destruction to both property and civilian life as the result of air strikes, including with missiles fitted with JDAM systems and/or fired from Apache helicopters, could "amount to a violation of the principle of distinction...[and] may also constitute a direct attack against civilian objects or civilians, a war crime under international criminal law." The report also confirmed that JDAM systems were used in the killing of at least 166 people, including 89 children.
L3 Technology Used at Checkpoints in Palestine
L3 has supplied Israel with the SafeView magnometric scanners used at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza and the Qalandia, Bethlehem, and Sha’ar Efraim checkpoints in the West Bank through distributor G4S Israel. The company also produces ProVision screening machines used in the Erez checkpoint. L3 has provided personal luggage scanners used at checkpoints in the West Bank through the distributor Eltal Technologistics.
L3’s Involvement in US Border Militarization, Surveillance and Immigrant Detention
Since 2003, L3 subsidiaries has consistently received contracts with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) totalling over $650 million dollars. Their largest contract with CBP valued over $600 million ran from 2003 to April 2018. These contracts were for the supply of CBP with aviation, maritime, and border technologies, equipment maintenance, night surveillance systems and technologies, such as a “night conqueror” cameras. Additionally, L3 has held over $1.4 million in contracts with ICE: for aircraft maintenance, surveillance equipment, such as walk-through metal detectors, and various other forms of maintenance.
Since 2004, L3 has supplied CBP with sensory technology “to assist in the surveillance and detection of [undocumented refugees and migrants]”. L-3 Vertex Aerospace, an L3 subsidiary, is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest suppliers. L-3 Vertex provides maintenance and logistical support to CBP’s P-3 surveillance aircrafts as well as supplying personnel, technology and maintenance to other CBP surveillance technology.
In 2006, Boeing Company subcontracted L3 in Boeing’s $2.1 billion contract with the US Department of Homeland Security to implement the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBINet), an electronic border surveillance system for the wall along the US-Mexico border near Tucson, Arizona. Other subcontractors included Unisys and Kollsman Inc, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems of America. The contract was terminated in 2011.
From 2005 to the present, L3 has been the prime contractor of the Predator/Reaper Mission Aircrew Training System (PMATS) that trains US Armed Forces and Customs and Border Protection agents to operate Predator and Reaper drones (RQ-1, MQ-1 and MQ-9 series). Originally designed for the US military to perform surveillance and armed reconnaissance missions, these military vehicles and weapons have been adopted by US Customs and Border Protection to monitor and surveil the US-Mexico border. This program is responsible for training US drone pilots who have carried out operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen.
L3 has been the subject of numerous controversies, investigations, and lawsuits. In 2014, the company reportedly overstated sales on a Defense Department contract and faced accusations of violating the federal securities laws. In September 2015, the company agreed to pay $4.63 million in response to allegations that it had knowingly overstated labor hours charged to the government under contracts with the U.S. Air Force. Later that same year, the United States filed and settled a civil fraud lawsuit against the company and its subsidiary, L-3 Communications EOTech. The U.S. government accused the company of knowingly and repeatedly selling defective weapon sights that malfunctioned in extreme weather conditions to the U.S. military. L-3 Communications Corporation (now L3 Technologies) and EOTech admitted to wrongdoing and agreed to pay the United States over $25 million. In January 2017, L3 Technologies agreed to pay over $1.6 million to settle charges that it improperly recorded revenue from a contract with the U.S. Army.
- On February 22, 2016, the Students’ Society of Mcgill University general assembly voted to support the BDS movement by divesting from companies “profiting from violations of Palestinian human rights,” including L-3 Communications. It was later voted against and nullified in an online ratification.