Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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54 www.insideunmannedsystems.com  June/July 2019 unmanned systems inside T he White House eased drone export rules in April 2018, responding to both strategic reali- ties and pressure from U.S. firms that were losing out on lucrative deals. The revised rules have captured the attention of some defense compa- nies, sharpening their focus on international sales and even inspiring design decisions that could make their drones both more competitive and easier to export—key factors in a sector where China has sold systems to at least a dozen countries and other new competitors are emerging. "Frankly, the approach within the United States government about the export of these types of sys- tems is different now," said Brian Chappel, Northrop Grumman's sector vice president and general manager for autonomous systems. "…We're receiving active en- couragement to bring these types of systems through a process to get the approval to release and work with other countries, even beyond some of the more tradi- tional ones like the U.K., Australia, Japan and Korea." Triggering the change were American manufac- turers of military drones who had long complained that U.S. export rules put them at a competitive disadvantage. Though the Obama administration made some revisions, the Trump administration de- cided to ease export controls more substantially after California-based General Atomics, which builds the Predator and Reaper unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), lost already-negotiated sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to a Chinese competi- tor at the last minute. Enthusiasm Builds for U.S. Military Drone Exports After Rules Change WASHINGTON VIEW by DEE ANN DIVIS, EDITOR Dee Ann Divis has covered GNSS and the aerospace industry since the early 1990s, writing for Jane's International Defense Review, the Los Angeles Times, AeroSpace Daily and other publications. She was the science and technology editor at United Press International for five years, leaving for a year to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow. IN BRIEF Global considerations and corporate pushback over being put at a competitive disadvantage led the U.S. government to revise its drone export rules in 2018. In response, some American defense fi rms are stepping up their global sales eff orts, including off ering export- friendly hardware that uses off -the- shelf technology and innovative approaches like optionally- manned capabilities. "General Atomics got quite upset and spoke to peo- ple in Congress and people in the DOD [Department of Defense], and made it clear that the policy, the on- going policy regarding drone sales, was hurting U.S. sales into a region which had traditionally purchased high-tech U.S. systems," said Steve Zaloga, a senior analyst with Teal Group Corporation and an expert on the market for military drones. STRATEGIC BREAKDOWN Sales by China were also undermining the core reason for the controls in the first place—nonpro- liferation of unmanned military technology. China was willing to sell UAS to countries the U.S. would not deal with and do so without putting restric- tions on the use of their drones, as the U.S. had done, said Josh Schwartz, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on drone export rules. At least a dozen nations have already bought Chinese militar y drones. For example, Algeria, Nigeria, Jordan, Zambia, Iraq, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Myanmar have pur- chased the Rainbow CH-4, an armed Chinese UAS similar to the U.S. Reaper, according to a May 2018 article in Foreign Policy. "In the past, U.S. drone policy ref lected a belief that if the United States restrained from exporting armed drones by strictly adhering to the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) then other states, especially ones that regularly abuse human rights, could not acquire them," wrote Schwartz and on Drone Exports Policy

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