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Pentagon Aims to Allow Drone Sales to 66 Countries

Common Dreams staff

Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images, file

A Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, southern England, on July 22, 2010.

Under new Defense Department guidelines, the Pentagon is currently making plans to loosen restrictions on the sale of military drone technology by US corporations to countries around the world. The new guidelines include at least at least 66 eligible countries, which have not yet been named.

The 66 countries listed would be eligible for sales of "unmanned aerial systems", among other formerly restricted technologies.

Military technology corporation Northrop Grumman praised the Obama administration for the shift in policy on Wednesday, saying the move will boost arms exports.

"It's slow, it's painful, but we're doing the right things to move in that direction," Northrop Grumman Corp chief executive Wes Bush told Reuters.

Northrop Grumman has long lobbied to loosen restrictions on such exports including Grumman's "Global Hawk" surveillance planes.

Questions remain unanswered as to which exact technologies will be made available. The Obama administration is currently revising which categories of the restricted U.S. Munitions List administered by the State Department will be moved to the Commerce Department's Commercial List. As the work is still underway, it may not be finished before this year's presidential election.

"We'll see what happens in November and what the victors of that election want to do to move forward on that," Jim Hursch, director of the Defense Department's Defense Technology Security Administration stated.

The policy revisions will have to face a final decision in Congress before finalization.

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