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.
General Atomics has been able to sell its MQ-1 Predator UAS to NATO countries like the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Italy, but has only sold an exportable version of Predator approved for the Middle East and North Africa to the United Arab Emirates so far, Jim Thomson, company regional vice president of international strategic development in the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas, told Defense News at SOFEX this week.