66 countries eligible to purchase US drones: Defence official

Sep 6, 2012
US arms industry is pushing for less export controls to boost revenue by selling more weapons abroad as the Pentagon has reportedly listed 66 nations as eligible to purchase the infamous US drones.

Deputy Director of US Defense Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency Richard Genaille announced in an industry conference called ComDef 2012 that the 66 countries were listed in a Defense Department policy worked out last year to clear the way for wider overseas sales of the unmanned aerial vehicles, but did not identify them, Reuters reported.

American arms makers are increasingly looking for overseas weapon sales, including the drones and other aircraft, to help compensate Pentagon budget cuts prompted by US deficit-reduction requirements but Congress and the State Department, which have a final say, have not yet approved such exports.

"We don't really have a comprehensive U.S. government policy" on such exports, said Genaille during the ComDef event. "It hasn't moved quite as fast as we would like, but we're not giving up."

Meanwhile, US officials have openly admitted that they customarily consult with the Israeli regime first in the process of approving any type of arms sales to Muslim and Middle East countries, which are among major buyers of American weapons systems.

Chief executive of major US arms exporter Northrop Grumman Corp, Wes Bush, praised the Obama administration on Wednesday for what he described as significant moves to boost arms exports, but expressed frustration over delays in codifying them in a new export policy.

"I wish we were further along in getting that done. It's slow, it's painful, but we're doing the right things to move in that direction," Bush said.

A specific Northrop Grumman concern, according to the report, is the restrictions placed on exports of its high-altitude Global Hawk surveillance planes.

The Obama administration began consulting Congress last year on plans to sell Global Hawk to South Korea before withdrawing the proposed sale for reasons that have not been publicly revealed.

Japan, Singapore and Australia have also expressed interest in acquiring the aircraft, a Northrop Grumman spokeswoman has said, quoted in the report.

Northrop Grumman's ability to boost its overseas arms sales depends largely on streamlined export controls, Bush said.

US arms industry and high-technology exporters have long complained about complex regulations limiting exports of weapons and "dual-use" goods that have both civilian and military applications.

The Obama administration, according to the report, has already placed proposed revisions on nine categories of the munitions lists out for public comment, reportedly facing difficult decisions moving ahead.

"There are some categories that by their basic nature are very, very difficult," including one that encompasses both night-vision technology and fire control, said Beth McCormick, deputy assistant secretary for defense trade and regional security.

In deciding what items to move to the commercial list, "we obviously have to think about the type of technology that we use on the battlefield, where obviously the control of the night has been something that's been very, very important to us," McCormick insisted.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service said that U.S. arms exports reached $66.3 billion in 2011. That represents a threefold increase from the previous year, according to an account in The New York Times.

The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports. The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion.
Source http://www.presstv.com/detail/2012/09/06/260107/us-arms-makers-eager-to-export-drones/


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