April 19 (UPI) — The Trump administration on Thursday announced policy changes making it easier for U.S. defense contractors to sell armed drones and other military equipment to foreign governments.
The policy changes will remove restrictions that barred U.S. firms from marketing and selling drones abroad, including armed drones that can guide missile strikes. Foreign countries previously had to go through the U.S. government for such purchases.
The policy shift will not only boost U.S. defense sales but also cut into competition from China and Russia for the sales.
“The security of the United States and the defense of our interests require a strong military, capable allies and partners, and a dynamic defense industrial base,” President Donald Trump said in the announcement. “Strategic conventional arms transfers lie at the intersection of these interests and play a critical role in achieving our national, economic security, and foreign policy objectives.”
Trump said by better aligning the policy will help the United States maintain a technological edge over adversaries, strengthen partnerships will allies and boost the economy.
Peter Navarro, White House director of trade and industrial policy, said enabling allies and partners to more easily obtain American defense articles and services will improve national security.
“Partners who procure American weaponry are more capable of fighting alongside us and ultimately more capable of protecting themselves with fewer American boots on the ground,” Navarro told reporters on a conference call.
Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, was skeptical and said Congress should weigh in on the changes.
“We’re deeply concerned that procedural change could lead to a further eroding of basic principles in the name of increasing profits,” Kimball said.