Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
General Atomics to Sell Predator Drone Abroad
San Diego-based defense firm General Atomics has unveiled the unarmed version of its Predator unarmed aerial vehicle, or drone, and expects it to be available for sale on the international market within months, Reuters is reporting.
So far, of over 500 drones sold by the company, all have gone to U.S. government agencies and friendly countries including Britan, Israel, and Turkey. But the company reportedly has eyes on broader markets in Latin America and Asia.
“There has been very considerable international interest,” General Atomics Aeronautical director of international strategy development Christopher Ames told Reuters, admitting that permission to sell drones laden with lethal weapons to “anyone other than the closest U.S allies” remained unlikely.
“There have been countries that for a long time have been asking for Predator . . . [the unarmed export variant] opens up those markets to us.”
Ames declined to disclose specifically which countries were interested in General Atomics’ technology, but diplomatic communications revealed by Wikileaks have identified Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (which has also been fingered as a buyer of the unarmed version of the Predator) as having been previously rebuffed by the federal government in their attempts to purchase armed versions of the aircraft.
Industry officials, meanwhile, continue to push for reduced limitations on their ability to sell war technology to foreign governments.
“I do think the regime could do with re-examination,” says Ames of American policy.
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- General Atomics Predator Drones Collide on El Mirage Runway, Investigation Continuing — Aug. 2, 2012
- Drone Makers Want to Sell to Foreigners — July 2, 2012
- Columnist Blames Lobbyists for Expanded Drone Use Authorization — May 1, 2012