Technology & Trade

What Obama’s Drone Export Policy Really Means

in Program

By Peter Lichtenbaum and Rachel Stohl: 

It seems like drones are everywhere in Washington. A drone landed on the White House lawn, the Federal Aviation Administration released regulations for small commercial drones in U.S. airspace, and, most recently, the State Department finally unveiled a long-awaited policy on the export of U.S.-origin military and commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), colloquially referred to as drones.

Most media reports have suggested that the State Department has opened the floodgates for U.S. drone exports. Not true. The new policy actually raises the level of scrutiny over the technology. Even before the announcement, it was possible to get a license to export armed military drones  – as evidenced by sales of armed Reaper drones to the United Kingdom. The United States has also sold highly capable drones to other close allies such as the Netherlands, Italy, France, and South Korea.

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Follow Rachel Stohl, Stimson’s Managing Across Boundaries initiative, and Stimson on Twitter.

Photo credit: roberthuffstutter via flickr

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