Can US-made armed UAVs sell five of them in 10 years and unlock restrictions to become explosives?

 Can US-made armed UAVs sell five of them in 10 years and unlock restrictions to become explosives?

Reference News Network reported on March 15 that military UAVs are reshaping the combat mode in the 21st century. They are widely used in reconnaissance and early warning, communication relay, military strike, combat evaluation and other fields because of their low cost, strong environmental adaptability and many other advantages such as effectively reducing casualties. With the development of science and technology, the military forces of all countries are still expanding the application boundaries of military UAVs. Military powers have also accelerated the investment of more resources in the research and development of UAVs, which has promoted the global market of military UAVs to flourish.

Global military UAV market is tripartite

According to the report of the Stockholm Institute for International Peace (SIPRI), the proportion of military UAVs in the export of aircraft was very small (less than 1%) before 2011. After five years of rapid development, the proportion of military UAVs in the export of aircraft had risen to 2.43% by 2016. According to the forecast of military UAV Market Research institute, the compound growth rate of global military UAV demand can reach 6.7% in the 10 years from 2015 to 2024, which will be much higher than the forecast growth level of global military expenditure in the same period.

Israel is the leader in the military UAV market. According to SIPRI data, from 2001 to 2015, the export of military UAVs from Israel accounted for 61% of the global share. Beginning in 2014, the US military UAV exports exceeded Israels, but did not widen the gap. During this period, China rose to catch up and basically stabilized the position of the third army. As a result, the military UAV market has basically formed a tripartite structure of Israel, the United States and China.

DATA PICTURE: Israels Aitan large UAV. (Pictures come from the Internet)

DATA PICTURE: US-made MQ-9 Death Attack UAV equipped by the British Air Force. (Pictures come from the Internet)

The United States sold only five armed UAVs in 10 years

In its latest report on the global arms trade, released on March 11, SIPRI said that the United States had sold only five armed drones over the past 10 years (the buyer was the United Kingdom). Armed UAVs are arguably the most expensive fist product of the military UAV family, but why is the U.S. military sales record in this field so ugly?

Originally, on February 17, 2015, the U.S. government announced a new policy aimed at strengthening export control of military UAVs. Several stringent regulations included case-by-case review, the need to export through government projects, the need for buyers to sign End-Use Guarantees and the need for client countries to use them only in local defense operations. For the export of large-scale armed UAVs, the United States has stipulated that the green light will only be turned on if the possibility of technology diffusion is basically excluded.

Overall, in the mid-high altitude UAV market, the characteristics of American products are excessive political conditions, high purchasing threshold, long purchasing cycle and low cost performance. According to reports, the US-made Predator UAV sells for about $5 million, while the MQ-9 Death UAV sells for as much as $15 million. As for other additional conditions and complicated procurement process, it is even more daunting.

After Trump came to power, he has been pushing for relaxation of U.S. conventional arms exports, especially U.S. -made UAVs. On April 19, 2018, Trump signed a memorandum of understanding to replace the stringent restriction policy enacted in 2015, allowing foreign governments to enter into direct transactions with American companies, but the US government will still regulate these transactions.

DATA PICTURE: Israels Hermes - 450 medium attack UAV. (Pictures come from the Internet)

US-made UAV exports are lifting the ban

Can relaxing U.S. export restrictions make it overwhelming in the global military UAV market? SIPRI data show that Britain, India and the Middle East have long been the major importers of military UAVs worldwide. At present, the British and Indian markets have been partitioned by the United States and Israel, and in these two markets, the United States and Israel are also considered full competition, one side is unlikely to swallow the other sides share in a short time.

On the contrary, in recent years, the Middle East and Africa, which have strong demand for UAVs due to the heavy anti-terrorism task, may become the new growth point that the U.S. military UAVs are more looking forward to. Israels public broadcasting company has disclosed that in recent years, a Gulf State, unable to purchase US-made attack UAVs, secretly contacted Israel to request a secret deal to provide a batch of Hermes 450 medium-sized attack UAVs, but the Israeli military finally refused after careful consideration.

Even if the U.S. relaxes its export restrictions, it does not mean that the U.S. military drones have a chance to become fragrant baboons in the Middle East and African markets. The official U.S. restriction policy is only one of the big mountains restricting the sales of U.S. UAVs, and this big mountain has not been completely eradicated. Protecting Israel is a priority of the United States in the Middle East, which is one of the reasons why the United States has strictly restricted the sale of high-tech and offensive UAVs to Middle East countries. The aim is to ensure that Israel has a long-term overwhelming advantage over the surrounding countries in the asymmetric equipment of UAVs. Today, the concerns of the United States remain in this regard.

Another big mountain is the price. In Africa, the high price of US-made UAVs is bound to seriously restrict their competitiveness. Even in the Middle East, where local tyrants are everywhere, the demand for armed UAVs in the countries of the region also upholds the principle of practical and affordable.

DATA PICTURE: Chinas pterosaur II attack UAV. (Pictures come from the Internet)

The Wall Street Journal attributed the success of Chinas armed UAVs in the Middle East to almost no competition - neither Israel nor the United States. However, the Middle East countriespreference for Chinas UAV is not just no choice. Compared with the same type of UAV in the United States, Chinas UAV technology does not have generation gap, and the price will be much cheaper, especially in the anti-terrorism battlefield, excellent combat performance also confirms its value.

At the same time, Russia also sees the potential of the Middle East market, is actively promoting Russian-made military UAVs to the local market, and regards the Syrian battlefield as a fair. At the end of 2018, Russia announced that its Orion UAV had found buyers in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that the relaxation of UAV export restrictions in the United States will certainly enhance the competitiveness of U.S. defense companies in the military UAV market, but the memorandum signed by Trump also indicates that the U.S. government will still regulate the sale of military UAVs with human rights, non-proliferation and other factors, and the contract still needs approval by the U.S. Congress.

The worlds military powers are speeding up the pace of expansion of UAV fleet, military UAV market will be more prosperous, competition will become increasingly fierce. However, the United States, which relaxes the export restrictions on UAVs, will not instantly become a wild beast lifting the seal. Israel, known as the No. 1 power of UAVs, and Russia, known as the rising star, will show strong competitiveness in this market. (Wen/Dong Lei)

Source: Responsible Editor of Reference Message Network: Wang Xu_NBJS8023