Drones: Made in America, Sold to Militaries Everywhere

We’ve known for a while that drones are becoming ubiquitous, sadly, two years before the FAA will have any rules. Already, the military is using drones to terrorize Yemeni villagers and police officers to spy. But with the recent Silicon Valley interest and boom in drones comes worrying questions.

The U.S. drone program has always been a bit shady. We know, for instance that the U.S. gained access to Pakistani airspace by covertly assassinating the Pakistan government’s enemies of state. Luckily for the U.S. government, Americans have a stunning ability to not care about anyone who does not share their nationality and/or race, and therefore the government’s drone actions have gone uncontested.

Now corporations are getting into the mix, with large funding from Silicon Valley. As I’ve noted before, drones certainly have legitimate uses. However, there is the potential that weaponized drones will be shipped overseas. NBC reports that the Pentagon has approved 66 nations as eligible to purchase U.S. drones. More worrying is the possibility that private corporations will secretly (or openly) sell their wares to foreign governments to be used for repression, or even attacks against the U.S. (hardly an unprecedented move).

The industrial half of the military-industrial complex are eager to start exporting weapons. Michael Buscher, CEO of Vanguard Defense Industries said, “I don’t see the domestic market as being such a boom, our bread and butter is still going to be overseas foreign military sales.”

I urge you to read that twice.

Some are raising concerns about exporting UAV technology. Daryl Kimball, executive director the Arms Control Association warned, “The proliferation of this technology will mark a major shift in the way wars are waged. We’re talking about very sophisticated war machines here. We need to be very careful about who gets this technology. It could come back to hurt us.” Dianne Feinstein has also raised concerns, telling the Wall Street Journal that, “there are some military technologies that I believe should not be shared with other countries, regardless of how close our partnership.”

We must certainly be careful about who gains control of the drones. In February General Atomics sold a predator drone to the United Arab Emirates. This marks the first time U.S. drones have been sold to a non-NATO country. More such sales are likely to come, especially in the developing world. It would be nice if the drones were used only to water crops, but I’m unaware of any predator drone farmer helper kits. Arms can easily change hands and allies can become enemies.

Remember the Mujahideen?

This article originally appeared on Policymic.com

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  • The_Ohioan

    Despite the political harumphing, the realistic view remains that, just as selling arms to Iran later caused Americans in Iraq to die, so would selling drones to another country possibly lead to other Americans dying in other countries or even here at home. This is true of the entire weapons industry which seems not to be adequately regulated.

    It is not that no one is concerned about anyone other than Americans that die, of course, and it is disingenuous to suggest that; but it is foolish to allow one of your country’s most efficient weapon against its enemies to fall into enemy (or future enemy) hands. This technology should be contained as long as possible to the US military alone.

  • ShannonLeee

    I wonder if I could carry a concealed drone into a wallmart?
    bet I could buy one there :)

  • http://elijahssweetespot.com tidbits

    Well, I don’t know about WalMart, but you can get one at Amazon…with attached camera for friendly neighborhood spying. Weaponized versions are not yet available to the general public, but drones up to six foot wing span are for sale and who knows how much or little would be necessary to add a remote control weapon of some sort, or a small impact bomb.

    This from Amazon:

    “Badboy Quadcopter With Camera!! v959(New Arrival!!)-QuadCopterCity
    by QuadCopterCity
    3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

    List Price: $179.99
    Price: $95.90″

  • sheknows

    It won’t be long before drug lords and gangs have them. If there is money to be made by manufacturing them or ones that can be adapted, consider them already on the street.

  • ShannonLeee

    2 years until the first mass murder via drone on an American town.
    How hard could it be to attach a semi auto rifle to a com available drone?

  • dduck

    SL, sad to say it could happen at any time and with BIG results not just a few casualties.