Defence firm Babcock will begin manufacturing 10,000 ventilators, it was announced this week.

In a statement Babcock said it had “responded quickly to the UK Prime Minister’s UK Ventilator Challenge” and that the manufacturing of 10,000 Zephyr Plus ventilators would begin subject to regulatory approval.

Although Babcock has not said where the ventilators will be manufactured, the firm has factories in Scotland and south-west England, and it is expected that staff who routinely work on defence contracts have been redeployed to work on the ventilator project.

Babcock is also refurbishing parts of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system at Devonport Dock, and is part of an alliance which manages The Royal Naval Armament Depot (RNAD) at Coulport and Faslane.

Defence diversification

One of the objections to scrapping Trident is that highly-skilled employees would be left without jobs. CND’s answer to this point over many decades has been that workers can and must be redeployed to socially useful parts of the economy. However, whenever we have proposed this ‘defence diversification’, the usual retort is ‘that’s impossible!’

The Babcock ventilator scheme shows us that it is possible after all.

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