White House to relax rules on military drone exports

Predator MQ1 Type Drone shutterstock ID: 167361152 By boscorelli 

The White House eased export restrictions on military-grade drone technology to allies to counter China’s growing global market share for the technology.

On April 19, President Donald Trump signed a National Security Presidential Memorandum that revises rules for export of military drones, including big target and long-range reconnaissance drones such as the Predator and Reaper aircraft, which are capable delivering weapons.

In a statement, the White House said the new policy "replaces an overly restrictive policy established in 2015 that hindered American companies from delivering a crucial military capability to our allies and partners."

In 2015, the Obama administration established a review process for sales of the aircraft that required close scrutiny of international sales of armed drones through a government-to-government foreign military sales program.

In a conference call on April 19, Peter Navarro, assistant to the president, director of trade and industrial policy, and director of the White House National Trade Council, told reporters that the changes would help trusted allies buy the technology directly from U.S. suppliers and not have to seek government approval for the sales.

Additionally, Navarro said, the more open sales policy would counter China's growing global market share for its drone technologies. China, he said, is replicating U.S. technology, pointing to its Wing Loong 2 medium-altitude, long-endurance drone made by Chengdu Aircraft Group. He called the drone "a clear knock-off" of the MQ-Reaper made by the U.S.-based General Atomics and used the U.S. Air Force.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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