Washington: President Donald Trump signed a measure this week that will allow U.S. defense contractors to sell more armed drones to foreign militaries, a State Department official said Friday.
The updated policy determination opens up the sale of armed U.S. drones to foreign governments that were previously forbidden from buying them under the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR, which was signed three decades ago by 35 member nations.
The MTCR classifies large drones akin to cruise missiles, which makes sales of such weapons subject to high export restrictions. Under the updated policy, the U.S. no longer subjects drones that fly under 800 kilometers per hour — such as Reapers made by General Atomics and Global Hawks made by Northrop Grumman — to MTCR’s high bar.
Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary for political-military affairs at the Department of State, said the new policy will help U.S. allies and partners “meet their urgent national security and commercial requirements.”
The modified U.S. drone export policy is largely viewed as a Trump administration effort to sell more weapons overseas.
Cooper reiterated that sales of U.S. drones would still be held to a high bar, downplaying concerns that the sale of more drones would lead to human rights abuses.