Sonny Burch was the chairman of Cross Technologies, an advanced weapons designer firm which was once affiliated with Obadiah Stane. In later years, as the Under-Secretary of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Burch became the main weapons acquierer for the US Government, supplying them with prototypes of advanced weapons technology through his defense contractors.[1]

After Tony Stark had publicly revealed his identity as Iron Man to the world, Burch was quick to exploit the legal complications which came with that revelation. Since Stark had in the past maintained that his Iron Man suit was being used by a Stark Industries bodyguard (and not by himself, as was the actual case), he lost his legal patent rights for the armor. Burch swiftly claimed ownership for Stark's older technologies and decided to apply them to his firm's designs, to augment them and reap in further (and higher) winnings. His ultimate ambition was to outdo Stark as a weapons supplier, advance into high politics, and become the next Secretary of Defense.[1]

But while Buch was a skilled businessman with a glib tongue and a number of profitable connections, he was by no means a responsible (or caring) administrator. All he wanted to do was to get profits by all means necessary; for this purpose he even blackmailed Force into restoring the old Iron Man armors which James Rhodes had attempted to destroy to prevent them from falling into Stane's hands.[2][3] In his eagerness to reap in his profits, Burch blatantly disregarded safety protocols for the patents, rushing them into field use without testing them for any functionality or safety issues. Additionally, the Stark technology he had provided to his contractors, outdated though it was, was still far too advanced to be compatible with the technology available to the government, leading to severe malfunctions in the field which imperiled (and even cost) the lives of the soldiers testing them. However, Burch was always able to wheedle his way out by shifting the blame on his suppliers and underlings. (It was mainly for this callous deployment of his technology that Tony Stark eventually decided to apply for the Secretary's post himself.)[1]

Burch committing suicide

However, Burch's reckoning came on the very day Tony Stark faced the Senate at their first voting on his candidateship. During a test of several new stealth jet drones one of his arms contractors had produced (with Stark technology), one of the drones went rogue when its computer malfunctioned due to a short circuit. The jet eventually collided with a C-5 Galaxy transport plane which was ferrying the restored Iron Man armors to one of Burch's contractor facilities for immediate mass production; the pilots were killed and the radio equipment disabled, and pieces of debris severely damaged the Galaxy's port side turbines, initiating the threat of a crash landing right into Washington, D.C.. To make things worse, a new defense missile launcher system Burch had prepared for a demonstration (again utilizing Stark technology) automatically fired its payload at the transport when the Galaxy's IFF transponder ceased to function.[2]

This sequence of strung-together disasters was a situation Burch could no longer sweet-talk his way out of. Facing utter personal ruin, and unwilling to take responsibility for his rash actions, he grabbed a pistol from a nearby M.P., ran into a motorpool hall before he could be stopped, and committed suicide.[4] The impending catastrophe for the city was barely averted by Stark in his latest armor, who was in the aftermath unanimously appointed Secretary of Defense[5] and spent the first period of his office undoing Burch's blunders.[6]

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