[drone-list] End-Use Monitoring on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Exports

John Young jya at pipeline.com
Wed Sep 12 15:17:26 PDT 2012


Agencies Could Improve Information Sharing and End-Use Monitoring on  
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Exports

Full 58-page report, PDF: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593131.pdf

GAO-12-536, Jul 30, 2012

What GAO Found

Since 2005, the number of countries that acquired an unmanned aerial  
vehicle (UAV) system nearly doubled from about 40 to more than 75. In  
addition, countries of proliferation concern developed and fielded  
increasingly more sophisticated systems. Recent trends in new UAV  
capabilities, including armed and miniature UAVs, increased the number of 
military applications for this technology. A number of new civilian and 
commercial applications, such as law enforcement and environmental 
monitoring, are available for UAVs, but these applications are limited by 
regulatory restrictions on civilian airspace.

The United States likely faces increasing risks as countries of concern and 
terrorist organizations seek to acquire UAV technology. Foreign countries' 
and terrorists' acquisition of UAVs could provide them with increased 
abilities to gather intelligence on and conduct attacks against U.S. 
interests. For instance, some foreign countries likely have already used 
UAVs to gather information on U.S. military activities overseas. 
Alternatively, the U.S. government has determined that selected transfers 
of UAV technology support its national security interests by providing 
allies with key capabilities and by helping retain a strong industrial base 
for UAV production. For instance, the United Kingdom and Italy have used 
UAVs purchased from the United States to collect data on Taliban activity 
in Afghanistan.

The United States has engaged in multilateral and bilateral diplomacy to 
address UAV proliferation concerns. The United States principally engaged 
the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to address multilateral UAV 
proliferation concerns. Since 2005, the United States proposed certain 
significant changes to address how MTCR controls UAVs, but members could 
not reach a consensus for these changes. Also, while the Wassenaar 
Arrangement (Wassenaar) controls the export of some key dual-use UAV 
components, it does not control other dual-use technologies that are 
commonly used in UAVs. The Department of State (State) has also used 
diplomatic cables to address the proliferation of UAV-related technologies 
bilaterally. State provided to GAO about 70 cables that it sent from 
January 2005 to September 2011 addressing UAV-related concerns to about 20  
governments and the MTCR. Over 75 percent of these cables focused on  
efforts by a small number of countries of concern to obtain UAV technology.

U.S. agencies coordinate in several ways to control the spread of UAV  
technology, but could improve their UAV-related information sharing. For 
instance, an interagency group reviews many license applications to export 
UAV technology. However, there is not a formal mechanism to ensure that 
licensing agencies have relevant and timely intelligence information when 
making licensing decisions. Also, State's licensing database cannot provide 
aggregate data on military UAV exports State has authorized, which may 
impair the U.S. government's ability to oversee the release of sensitive 
UAV technology. The Department of Defense (DOD) and State each conduct 
end-use monitoring of some UAV exports, but differences in the agencies' 
programs may result in similar types of items being subject to different 
levels of oversight.

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