Presidential decree to facilitate export of combat drones divides U.S. politicians

Up to now, exports by the United States of drone systems of category 1, i.e. with a payload capacity of less than 500 kg at more than 300 km, such as the MQ-1 Predator, the MQ -9 Reaper or the RQ-4 Global Hawk, were conditioned on an explicit prior agreement of the American authorities, according to the rule of the "presumption of refusal", being assimilated to missiles in the legislation Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR. The acquiring country had to justify, by exceptional circumstances, its request, which generated a long procedure, and significantly more cumbersome than for other equipment. According to the statements of several American manufacturers, this difficulty had negative consequences on American exports of this type of equipment, in particular vis-à-vis its main competitor. China which, since 2015, has overtaken the United States in this area on the international scene.

Friday July 25, the Deputy Secretary of the Office of Politico-Military Affairs, R. Clarke Cooper, announced the withdrawal of this specificity for these drones, judging the risk of technological leakage and the potential threat that these drones represent for the security of States - United and its allies comparable to those of other defense equipment not constrained by this specific legislation. This announcement naturally satisfied the industrialists, but also generated many oppositions and reservations, coming from the political class as well as from the industrialists themselves.

Since 2014, China has overtaken the United States in the sale of military drones on the international scene, notably thanks to the MALE Wing Long II drone.

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