US drone makers urge government to open foreign markets to sell unmanned aircraft
Washington, July 2 (ANI): American military contractors are lobbying with the government to ease export restrictions and open up foreign markets to sell drones, despite concerns about U.S.-made unmanned aircraft ending up in enemy hands.
According to the Los Angeles Times, companies such as Northrop Grumman Corp. and other arms makers are eager to make profits from the growing foreign demand for high-tech and relatively cheap drones, which are already being sold in the world market by countries, such as Israel and China.
"Export restrictions are hurting this industry in America without making us any safer," Wesley G. Bush, Northrop's chief executive, said at a defense conference this year.
"The U.S. is struggling to sell unmanned aircraft to our allies while other nations prepare to jump into the marketplace with both feet," he added.
However, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said that drone sales are problematic because the unmanned vehicles are more affordable than other military aircraft.
"The proliferation of this technology will mark a major shift in the way wars are waged," he said. "We're talking about very sophisticated war machines here. We need to be very careful about who gets this technology. It could come back to hurt us," he added.
Defense companies said that they need Congress to ease restrictions so they can tap lucrative foreign markets for their wares.
More important, they say, the current export restrictions may cause the U.S. to lose potential customers to nations eager to elbow their way into the market.
Already, Israel is making drones and selling them to several countries, including Azerbaijan, India and Ecuador. China has more than a dozen drones in development.
The U.S. already sells fighter jets, bunker-busting bombs and high-powered ship-mounted guns to a wide variety of countries. (ANI)
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