The U.S. State Department gave Congress notification it plans to sell 18 sophisticated armed MQ-9B aerial drones to the United Arab Emirates in a deal worth as much as $2.9 billion, people briefed on the notification said.
The move comes on the heels of last week’s notification of a potential sale of F-35 fighter jets to the middle-eastern country.
This would mark the first armed drone export since the Trump administration reinterpreted a Cold War-era arms agreement between 34 nations to allow U.S. defense contractors to sell more drones to allies.
Reuters has reported that UAE has long shown interest in purchasing drones from the United States and would be among the first customers in line after U.S. export policy changed this summer. A $600 million deal to sell four unarmed but weapons-ready MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones to Taiwan was the first to be formally notified to Congress on Tuesday.
This informal notification for the Reaper-style drones is the precursor to the State Department’s formal and public notification.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees – whose members have criticized UAE’s role in civilian deaths in Yemen’s civil war – have the ability to review and block weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.
The U.S. State Department may wait to formally notify Congress of the sale once staff and members are briefed on the potential sale, one of the people said. The formal notification gives Congress 30 days to object to any sales.
A U.S. State Department spokesman told Reuters, “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”
The armed MQ-9B drones will also be equipped with maritime radar and could be delivered in 2024. The package notified to Congress is for 15 with an option for three additional drones, one of the people said.
Photo: A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone sits in a hanger at Amari Air Base, Estonia, July 1, 2020. U.S. unmanned aircraft are deployed in Estonia to support NATO’s intelligence gathering missions in the Baltics. REUTERS/Janis Laizans/File Photo
UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf https://www.uasvision.com/2020/11/09/us-advances-2-9bn-reaper-sale-to-uae/, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert. Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache. Für die Inhalte ist der UAV DACH e.V. nicht verantwortlich.