Flood gates could open on US drone sales to the Middle East

AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. drone sales could heat up in the Middle East as the Trump Administration moves to relax unmanned aircraft export policies abroad for non-NATO countries.

And while Jordan prominently displayed one of its Chinese drones that looks eerily similar to a Reaper unmanned aircraft system right next to its new colossal Russian-made Mi-26 Halo cargo helicopter at the Special Operations Exposition here, General Atomics came to the expo with a message to Middle Eastern countries that its unmanned aircraft systems are best suited to accomplish mission sets important in regional operations.

Because it’s been essentially impossible to buy larger drones with laser-designator technology by foreign countries in the Gulf region, area countries have turned to Chinese and Russian technology. Chinese drones are dominant in the Middle East because they are less expensive and there are no buying restrictions.

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