Wednesday, February 27, 2008

UTC, The Met and Jasper Johns: Gray
February 5, 2008–May 4, 2008
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, 2nd floor
This exhibition is made possible in New York by United Technologies Corp.

UTC helped unveil a new exhibition it is sponsoring at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. UTC made possible the exhibition, Jasper Johns: Gray, which examines the acclaimed American artist's use of the color gray in more than 120 of his painting, drawings, prints and sculptures. The exhibition runs through May 4 and is the first of its kind to focus on the artist's use of the color gray. Prior to coming to the Metropolitan, Jasper Johns: Gray was on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

About United Technologies

The name sounds like they make light bulbs, but UT, a.k.a. Sikorsky, sells Black Hawk and Comanche helicopters and various missile systems designed to inspire terror in civilians from Palestine to Colombia to Somalia and beyond.

CEO: George David
Military contracts 2005: $5.0 billion
Defense-related contributions in the 2004 election cycle: $558,850*

United Technologies may be a Fortune 500 company, but it’s not a household name – and most people don’t realize that the maker of Otis elevators and Carrier air conditioners and heaters is a major military contractor. The Hartford, Connecticut-based company makes military helicopters, engines and missile systems. Its subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand creates flight systems for both commercial and military aircrafts, while UT subsidiary Pratt & Whitney designs and manufactures engines, gas turbines and space propulsion system for military aircrafts. In 2003, United Technologies also acquired the British electronic security company Chubb Ltd.

UT’s helicopter division Sikorsky manufactures the enormously expensive and deadly Comanche and Black Hawk helicopters – the latter made famous from the US debacle in Somalia. In February 2004, Sikorsky got a surprise when the US army canceled its RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, a joint partnership between the company and Boeing, valued at $14.6 billion. The Army had invested $6.9 billion into the Comanche helicopter project over 21 years and, had it continued, it would have cost more than $39 billion. However, Sikorsky won’t do too badly at the end of the day: the Pentagon is proposing to take the money allocated for the Comanches and use it to buy 796 Black Hawk and other helicopters, as well as upgrading the helicopters that the Army currently owns.

Sikorsky supplies weaponry to conflicts all over the world, not limited to the “war on terror” and occupation of Iraq. The company has profited handsomely from the US-backed war in Colombia, with the help of its boosters with the government. The 2000 US military aid package to the South American company included thirty UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters, at price tag of $390 million. The Black Hawk helicopters, according to critics, cost six times as much as Sikorsky competitor, Textron’s Huey II.

UT’s shareholders have recently called for the disclosure of the salaries received by company executives, the application of ethics in UT’s military sales, an independent board, and greater transparency in the company’s accounting practices. However, they shouldn’t expect change any time soon; CEO and Chairman George David, who received $70 million in 2003 in salary and stock options, told The Guardian of London, “I'll say something on public accounting: it is an art, not a science.”

United Technologies, from its origins in 1925 as Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, has consistently relied on the beneficence of those in power. Like other military contractors, UT has accrued private profits at public expense; so much so during WW2 that then-United Technologies president Eugene Wilson described the company’s fortunes as “unconscionable profits”. But lapses of guilt didn’t put an end to UT’s takings and the US government’s largesse and assistance. William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense under the Clinton Administration, pushed to allow United Technologies’ Sikorsky to sell military parts to China, in spite of the ban on defense sales following the Tiananmen Square massacre. Sikorsky had sold Black Hawk helicopters to China in 1984. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig has played a similar role in China for UT, working as an adviser for the company and helping set up a dozen joint ventures there.

In 2000 UT gave $737,470, with 48% going to the Democrats and 52% to the Republicans. Two years later the company gave $699,242 in campaign contributions. In that election cycle Republicans received substantially more, getting 62% compared to the Democrats’ 38%. In the 2004 election cycle UT gave 788,011, with 64% going to Republicans and 36% to Democrats.

Update: Feb 15, 2008 - United Technologies Corp. wins a $119.5 million contract from the Defense Logistics Agency to supply engines for the Navy and the Marines.



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