The U.S. State Department has announced a new export policy that governs the international sale, transfer and subsequent use of U.S.-made military and commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The new export policy builds upon the U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and is part of a broader United States UAS policy review which includes plans to work with other countries to shape international standards for the sale, transfer, and subsequent use of military UAS.
The main points of the new policy are as follows:
Enhanced Controls on the Export of U.S.-Origin Military UASs
- Sales and transfers of sensitive systems to be made through the government-to-government Foreign Military Sales program;
- Review of potential transfers to be made through the Department of Defense Technology Security and Foreign Disclosure processes;
- Each recipient nation to be required to agree to end-use assurances as a condition of sale or transfer;
End-use monitoring and potential additional security conditions to be required;
- All sales and transfers to include agreement to principles for proper use.
The new policy also maintains the United States’ long-standing commitments under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which subjects transfers of military and commercial systems that cross the threshold of MTCR Category I (i.e., UAS that are capable of a range of at least 300 kilometers and are capable of carrying a payload of at least 500 kilograms) to a “strong presumption of denial” for export but also permits such exports on “rare occasions” that are well justified in terms of the nonproliferation and export control factors specified in the MTCR Guidelines.
Principles for Proper Use of U.S.-Origin Military UAS
The United States will require recipients of U.S.-origin military UAS to agree to the following principles guiding proper use before the United States will authorize any sales or transfers of military UASs:
- Recipients are to use these systems in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable;
- Armed and other advanced UAS are to be used in operations involving the use of force only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense;
- Recipients are not to use military UAS to conduct unlawful surveillance or use unlawful force against their domestic populations;
- As appropriate, recipients shall provide UAS operators technical and doctrinal training on the use of these systems to reduce the risk of unintended injury or damage.
Enhanced Controls on the Export of U.S.-Origin Commercial UAS
The United States is equally committed to stringent standards for the sale, transfer, and subsequent use of U.S.-origin commercial UAS, to include future commercial MTCR Category I systems. All commercial UAS will be reviewed under the requirements and licensing policies described in the Export Administration Regulations.