The U.S. State Department on Tuesday unveiled a new policy aimed at strengthening export controls on military and commercial drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).
The department said in a statement the policy establishes standards by which the United States will assess, on a case-by- case basis under the U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, potential exports of military drones, including armed systems.
Under the new policy, sales and transfers of military drones must be made through the government-to-government Foreign Military Sales program and each recipient nation must "agree to end-use assurances," it said.
Specially, transfers of military and commercial drones capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kilograms to a range of at least 300 kilometers are subjected to a "strong presumption of denial," said the department.
The new policy, however, permits such exports on "rare occasions" where the possibility of misuse is basically ruled out, it said.
The department said it will also require recipients of U.S.- origin military drones to agree to use these systems in operations such as national self-defense and not to use them to "conduct unlawful surveillance or use unlawful force against their domestic populations."
The new policy also governs the international sale, transfer and subsequent use of U.S.-origin commercial drones, saying such systems will be reviewed under the requirements and licensing policies described in the export administration regulations.
"The new U.S. UAS export policy provides a disciplined and rigorous framework within which the United States will exercise restraint in sales and transfers and advance its national security and foreign policy interests," the statement said.
The department added that it plans to work with other countries to shape international standards for the sale, transfer, and subsequent use of military drones.