September 06, 2012
Credit: Credit: USAF
As many as 66 countries would be eligible to buy U.S. drones under new Defense Department guidelines but Congress and the State Department, which have a final say, have not yet opened the spigots for exports, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday.
The 66 countries were listed in a Defense Department policy worked out last year to clear the way for wider overseas sales of unmanned aerial systems, as the Pentagon calls such drones, said Richard Genaille, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. He did not name them.
“We don’t really have a comprehensive U.S. government policy” on such exports, he told an industry conference called ComDef 2012. “It hasn’t moved quite as fast as we would like, but we’re not giving up.”
Northrop Grumman Corp chief executive Wes Bush on Wednesday praised the Obama administration for what he described as significant moves to boost arms exports, but voiced frustration at 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 told Reuters.
U.S. arms makers are looking abroad to help offset Pentagon spending cuts spurred by U.S. deficit-reduction requirements.
Northrop Grumman’s ability to boost its overseas arms sales, which now account for less than 10 percent of its overall revenues, hinges largely on streamlined export controls, Bush said.
U.S. defense and high-technology exporters have long complained about the complex web of regulations governing exports of weapons and “dual-use” goods that have both civilian and military applications. They believe the rules disadvantage them versus foreign competitors.