>> President Donald Trump plans to make it easier to sell armed US drones to partners overseas. The move under Trump's America First banner, would end a long standing US taboo against selling armed drones anyone other than a small handful of close allies. Mike Stone says the change would initially apply mainly to a broad class of smaller, but still deadly, drones.
>> Sources have told us that lethal drones, of the smaller kind known as category two, are going to be able to be sold to a very large list of countries. Previously, lethal drones were limited to only the tippy-top of the list of US allies.>> Potential buyers being given fast track treatment under the new guidelines include Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners, treaty allies like Japan and South Korea and NATO countries.
Under the new changes, sales of the smaller drones would no longer require congressional oversight for deals below $14 million, putting approval at the discretion of the State Department. The administration also plans to change the way it interprets an international agreement on the sale of larger drones. Deals that would previously have been blocked could now go through if deemed by the administration to be in the national interest.
As the US tries to hold on to its share of a crowded sector.>> Many other countries in the world manufacture drones. Israel, China are the two of the largest manufacturers and they are selling into US allies now. The United States wants to go back and try and capture that market share.
>> The proposed changes have set off alarm bells for human rights and arms control advocates.>> The question that human rights experts would have is whether or not by exporting to some of those country's, conflicts with neighbors or even internal conflicts can be exacerbated.>> The plans changes would help small producers like Textron as well as larger companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, all vying for a stake in a military drown market expected to reach $9.4 billion by 2025