Foreign Governments Line Up to Buy U.S. Dronesby Noel Brinkerhoff
Apr. 04, 2010
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Foreign buyers are itching for the opportunity to buy American-made pilotless reconnaissance aircraft, and the Department of Defense does not plan to get in the way, despite concerns that the military technology could fall into the wrong hands.
The Global Hawk spy plane has been a great product for defense contractor Northrop Grumman since it first began selling them 11 years ago. The U.S. Air Force has relied on the drones to collect intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan, flying up to 60,000 feet and on missions lasting 32 hours at a time. And while the Global Hawk is not cheap—$30 million apiece—it’s considerably more affordable than piloted aircraft like the $85 million Joint Strike Fighter.
Countries looking to purchase Global Hawk include Japan and South Korea (to help both improve their spying of North Korea), Australia, Germany, Singapore, Spain, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Once the aircraft is in foreign hands, there’s no guarantee it won’t be resold to third parties—something that has happened to other U.S. military hardware.