The Los Angeles Times has an article today about American manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) seeking to sell them on the world market.
Despite concerns about U.S.-made drones ending up in enemy hands, American military contractors are lobbying the government to loosen export restrictions and open up foreign markets to the unmanned aircraft that have reshaped modern warfare.Considering our most recent experience with the international release of weapons, one might hope that we would have the common sense to restrain ourselves from selling more devices around the planet. We saw the incredible increase of nuclear weapons with "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) as the only justification for not having another nuclear war. One can place a weapon on a drone as easily as a camera, so why on Earth would we consider selling them?
"Export restrictions are hurting this industry in America without making us any safer," Wesley G. Bush, Northrop's chief executive, said at a defense conference this year. "The U.S. is struggling to sell unmanned aircraft to our allies while other nations prepare to jump into the marketplace with both feet."Does the "defense" industry profit trump our safety?
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Assn., said that drone sales are problematic because the unmanned vehicles are more affordable than other military aircraft. And with no human pilot at risk, drones could make it easier to decide to go to war, he said.
"The proliferation of this technology will mark a major shift in the way wars are waged," he said. "We're talking about very sophisticated war machines here. We need to be very careful about who gets this technology. It could come back to hurt us."The article continues to explain how the manufacturers of drones are stuck on the sidelines while other American manufacturers of weapons can see their products exported for great profits. Not fair! We want to profit as well! "It could come back to hurt us."
By the way, if you Google or Bing "drones for sale", there is an amazing array of UAVs on the domestic market right now. One can spend less than a thousand dollars for a drone that can carry a camera weighing less than two pounds to tens of thousands of dollars for your personal military-style personal surveillance drone. E-Bay has some that appear to be real military hardware.
I'm going to side with Mr. Kimball of the Arms Control Association. Proliferation is a big mistake.
14 December 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
1 January 2012, FollowUp 1.
4 January 2012, FollowUp 2.
12 June 2012, FollowUp 3.