ROME — Two U.S. officials have told Reuters that the US government has vetted and approved Italy’s request to buy armaments for their US made drone aircraft. Italy first requested to buy armaments for its two US made MQ-9 Reaper drones in 2012.
According to the officials, the US State Department has approved the sale to Italy of 156 AGM-113R2 Hellfire II missiles, 20 GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, 30 GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and others. Italy would be the second country after the United Kingdom to receive approval to buy armaments for its large US made drones.
In February 2015, the US government enacted a new export policy governing the sale of large drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, and drone armaments, requiring that buyers undergo review by the US State Department. Under the policy, buyers of military drones must agree not to use the drones for unlawful surveillance and may not use the drones to crack down on their domestic populations.
Speaking of the government’s approval of Italy’s request, one official told Reuters, “It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly, and it’s symbolic of our trust in Italy as a partner.”
“Italy is a responsible member of the international community and they have been with us in every significant recent NATO and U.S.-led operation.”
The arms sale to Italy is valued at $129.6 million dollars, with defense contractor General Atomics acting as prime contractor. The US Congress has 15 days to veto the sale of drone armaments to Italy, but is expected to allow the sale to proceed.
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