The US eases export restrictions on drones

"The President has decided to invoke our national discretion to treat a carefully selected subset of MTCR Category I UAS, which cannot travel faster than 800 km per hour, as Category II," Xinhua news agency quoted the White House as saying a statement on Friday.

Washington: The US government has announced updated export restrictions on unmanned aerial systems (UAS), a move long sought by the country’s defence industries.

“The President has decided to invoke our national discretion to treat a carefully selected subset of MTCR Category I UAS, which cannot travel faster than 800 km per hour, as Category II,” Xinhua news agency quoted the White House as saying a statement on Friday.

UAS(unmanned aerial system)

Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) means an unmanned aircraft and the equipment to control it remotely. Unmanned aircraft (UA) means any aircraft operating or designed to operate autonomously or to be piloted remotely without a pilot on board

MTCR Category I UAS

The standards of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) have been outdated, which not only hurt the US industry but also undermined the country’s deterrence capability abroad by constraining allies and partners, the statement said.

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This policy change means that the UAS with speed under 800 km per hour will no longer be subjected to the “strong presumption of denial” of the MTCR, allowing the US to increase foreign sales of military drones such as MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

 MQ-9 Reaper
MQ-9 Reaper
RQ-4 Global Hawk
RQ-4 Global Hawk

“It helps our allies, it helps our partners — it helps them all meet their urgent national security and commercial requirements, and it also advances the US’s national security and economic interests,” R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told reporters in a Friday phone briefing.

US media reported that American defence industries have been pushing for export changes for years so that they can sell more drones overseas, especially to the Middle East.

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The MTCR, established in 1987, is an informal political agreement between 35 member states that aims to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.

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