General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., (GA-ASI) executives believe that overly strict export control laws and an international handshake agreement hurt the United States in a number of ways, including abdicating US influence on the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.
Executives spent multiple days with reporters slamming the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an informal political understanding among nations that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology, as overly broad. They said the MTCR improperly classifies medium altitude UAVs as ballistic missiles, limiting their ability to sell products to countries outside North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners and allies Japan, South Korea, and Australia and, sometimes, even to those nations. GA-ASI’s Predator B, at between 40,000 and 45,000 ft maximum altitude, is a medium altitude UAV.
“What’s crazy about it is here’s an ally that we’ll sell the most advanced F-16 fighter jet, but they cannot buy a MQ-9,” David Alexander, GA-ASI aircraft systems president, told reporters on 16 August at GA-ASI’s Poway, California, headquarters. “It doesn’t even pass the giggle test.”
MTCR is divided into two categories. Category I, the stricter category, includes complete rocket and UAV systems, including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles, sounding rockets, cruise missiles, target drones, and reconnaissance drones, capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km (186 miles). Exports of Category I items are subject to an unconditional strong presumption of denial regardless of the purpose of the export and are licensed for export only on rare occasions.
Source: Jane’s 360