Building Alliances and Competing with China: The Imperative for UAV Export Reforms

Arlington, VA | April 18, 2022 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Building Alliances and Competing with China: The Imperative for UAV Export Reforms by Heather R. Penney, Senior Resident Fellow at the Mitchell Institute.

At a time when the American public is demanding to know what more we can do to help forces in Ukraine resist the invasion of Russia, we should look to highly capable U.S. remotely piloted aircraft that have proven track records from our recent engagements in the Middle East and Africa.

However, current U.S. RPA export policies are overly restrictive and reduce opportunities to build U.S. relationships with other countries, undermine our efforts to expand regional alliances and coalitions, diminish U.S. diplomatic and operational influence, and weaken our nation’s industrial base. They likewise benefit China and other strategic competitors who use their RPA exports to create additional avenues to expand their influence and gather intelligence.

Failing to revamp its RPA export policies means the United States could face a weakening of its relationships and influence in the very regions it seeks to promote stability and core U.S. interests. It is imperative that the administration update U.S. RPA export policies and aggressively pursue opportunities to share these capabilities with friends, allies, and partners that are critical to integrated deterrence. This will become even more important as manned-unmanned teaming concepts mature.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series presenting new thinking and policy proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges of the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers and their staff, policy professionals, business and industry, academics, journalists, and the informed public.

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