Trump administration eases drone export standards
Washington: In a significant development, the Trump administration on Friday relaxed standards for exporting drones to friendly countries.
Under the new policy, drones that fly at speeds below 800 km per hour are no longer subject to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
“This action, which is consistent with the MTCR guidelines will increase the US’s national security by improving capabilities of its partners and increase economic security by opening the expanding drones market to the US industry, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
“This policy change modernises our approach to implementing our MTCR commitments. It makes it more reflective of the technological realities,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Clarke Cooper told reporters during a conference call.
“It helps our allies, it helps our partners – it helps them all meet their urgent national security and commercial requirements, and it also advances the US’s national security and economic interests,” he added.
Cooper, however, said higher-speed systems such as cruise missiles, hypersonic aerial vehicles, and advanced unmanned combat aerial vehicles are not affected by this revision.
The United States remains a committed member of the MTCR and holds it as an important non-proliferation tool to curb the spread of high-end missile technologies to countries such as North Korea and Iran.
Preventing the use and spread of the weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery remains a Trump administration priority, he said.
As of now only three countries — England, France and Australia — are allowed to buy larger, armed drones from US manufacturers.
In a statement, the White House said while the missile control pact is critical in slowing proliferation and promoting peace and security, it is in dire need of modernisation as it applies to unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
In a sector of rapidly evolving technology, the MTCR standards are more than three decades old, McEnany said, adding that not only do these outdated standards give an unfair advantage to countries outside the MTCR and hurt the United States industry.
They also hinder our deterrence capability abroad by handicapping our partners and allies with subpar technology, he asserted.
More than two years of discussion with MTCR partners were unable to produce consensus on this overdue reform, she added.