Congress cautious about selling armed drones to NATO allies

Unmanned aerial warfare

From Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, the Wall Street Journal:  The Obama administration has been quietly pushing to sell armed drones to key allies, but it has run into resistance from U.S. lawmakers concerned about the proliferation of technology and know-how.

The Pentagon wants more North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to have such pilotless aircraft to ease the burden on the U.S. in Afghanistan and in future conflicts like the alliance’s air campaign in Libya this year.

Administration officials recently began informal consultations with lawmakers about prospective sales of armed drones and weapons systems to NATO members Italy and Turkey, while several U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf have been pressing Washington to authorize drone sales, officials said.

The Pentagon’s proposed sales have set off a behind-the-scenes debate between the administration and some members of Congress over whether the U.S. should speed the spread of a technology that will allow other countries to carry out military strikes by remote control. . . .

"There are some military technologies that I believe should not be shared with other countries, regardless of how close our partnership," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. "The United States should be trying to control the proliferation of certain weapons, and I would put armed UAVs in that category."   (graphics: Economist)

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