US to ease export controls on military drone sales to allies – The Courier-Express

WASHINGTON — The U.S. said it will ease restrictions on the sale of armed drones, a shift that could benefit key allies such as Saudi Arabia while allowing Washington to better compete with countries like China.

The shift will help American allies “meet their urgent national security and commercial requirements and it also advances the United States national security and economic interests,” Assistant Secretary of State R. Clarke Cooper said in briefing with reporters Friday. A top Democrat slammed the move.

The move is likely to allow the first sale to allies of armed Reaper drones made by privately-held General Atomics Technologies Corp. of San Diego, as well as the ground stations needed to control the vehicles in flight, select targets, and drop laser-guidance weapons.

The sales will be done on “case-by-case determinations based on not only where the partner requirement may be, but how that aligns with U.S.