Trump easing exports of lethal drones to allies: report
President Trump is expected to make it easier for lethal U.S.-made drones to be purchased by U.S. allies and partners as part of the White House’s “Buy American” program, Reuters reported Tuesday.
U.S. drone manufacturers have reportedly been pushing the administration to make the change as a result of increased competition from Chinese and Israeli manufacturers.
“We’re getting outplayed all over the world,” one unnamed U.S. official told Reuters. “Why can our competitors sell to our own allies the equipment they are clamoring to buy from us? This policy is meant to turn that around.”
The only sales of armed U.S.-made drones in recent years have been to Italy and the United Kingdom. The Trump administration hopes to boost those international sales with a plan to “minimize the self-inflicted bureaucratic and administrative hurdles to U.S. competitiveness in the global aerospace markets.”
Among the countries expected to be in the group that sees restrictions loosened are NATO allies such as Saudi Arabia and other treaty allies such as Japan and South Korea.
Rules on drone exports were loosened during the Obama administration, resulting in an increase in sales as well as complaints that the policy was still too restrictive. The Teal Group, a market research firm, estimates that global U.S. drone sales could jump from $2.3 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion by 2025.
The White House and Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on the story.
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