The United States government has just eased regulations on selling drones to other countries. According to the New York Times, “The Obama administration is amending its regulations for weapons sales to allow the export of armed military drones to friendly nations and allies.” In a later article they say that State Department Officials say “sales must be made through government programs and that recipient nations must agree to certain ‘end-use assurances.'” However, one of the issues that triggered this is loss of contracts from Israel by armed drone manufactures. Israel uses armed drones to police the border and prosecute wars against the people of Gaza.
Many countries are interested in this opportunity. According to an Editorial in Barchart, a Wall Street Blog, 3 Defense Stocks Ride on New Armed Drone Policy. Of course, the money guys are excited about this policy change as well. The policy itself is a response to demands by General Atomics (maker of Reaper and Predator drones), Northrup Grumman and other manufacturers of armed drones who felt they were losing out on lucrative contracts while Israel, China, Russia and others are developing weaponized drones and entering the market.
Now, when you read that the US will be selling armed drones to our friends and allies, you probably think ‘England, France, Germany . . . ‘, our old friends. Leaving aside the fact that one of these countries was the central opponent in the last world war, whose leadership from that period remain the archetype for evil in international dealings, the fact is that our allies include the Gulf Emirates including Qatar, which is the publisher of Al Jazeera, NATO ally Turkey and Saudi Arabia. These latter countries are governed by conservative regimes that are supporting the Islamist insurgencies and driving much of the violence in the Greater Middle East from Lebanon to Pakistan. Will we sell them armed drones?
Perhaps there remain some restrictions on selling armed drones. But, we are opening Pandora’s Box, and when we will find the bottom, no one can know. One thing is certain, all the demons will fly out first.
For another Upstate Drone Report on this subject, read Mickie Lynn’s latest blog post in the Alabany Times Union, Armed Drones for the World, What a Brilliant Idea!