U.S. corporations are selling drones to undisclosed foreign governments for anti-narcotics and anti-terrorism operations, according to Teddy Wilson at The American Independent. The global market for unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) is growing rapidly as the use of drones expands from military to domestic law enforcement.
The U.S. government sells drones to other countries through Foreign Military Sales, and U.S. corporations can sell drones and other defence technologies directly to foreign governments after going through a screening process run by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
Vanguard defence Industries, a Texas-based defence contractor, is predicting that next year its domestic sales will increase 25 per cent to between $35 million and $40 million, but the majority of its sales will be overseas.
Vanguard CEO Michael Buscher, a 20-year U.S. military veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Texas Independent that the process is not as burdensome as he expected and that some smaller companies bypass regulations when selling drones overseas.
From The American Independent:
The ShadowHawk, a sleek helicopter drone, is Vanguard’s signature UAV. There are four different models of the ShadowHawk, including weaponised military versions. Equipped with either a grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun with laser designator, the ShadowHawk MK-III and MK-IV are designed for military use. Currently the MK-II, designed primarily for surveillance, is authorised for overseas sales.
Buscher would not disclose the countries that are Vanguard’s current clients, but leaked emails — hacked by the group LulzSec and published in August 2011 — reveal that Vanguard drones are deployed to the Horn of Africa, Panama, Colombia, and along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Human rights organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have called for more transparency about the domestic use of drones, criticising recent bills passed by Congress that open U.S. airspace to drones.
Philip Alston, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, submitted a report in 2010 that referred to drone attacks by the U.S. as part of a “strongly asserted but ill-defined licence to kill without accountability.”
A recent ACLU report concluded that protections must be put in place to guard the privacy of American citizens and the human rights of people around the world.
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