Washington: The Obama administration has been quietly pushing to sell armed drones to key allies, including India, but it has run into resistance from lawmakers concerned about the proliferation of technology and know-how, media reports said.
The Pentagon wants more North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to have such pilotless aircraft to ease the burden on the US in Afghanistan, and in future conflicts like the alliance`s air campaign in Libya this year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
India, which has been purchasing drones from Israel for quite some time now, could also be one of the potential buyers.
India has been developing its drone capabilities too, but does not have armed drones like the Predators and Reapers used by US security agencies with devastating effect against Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan.
Obama administration officials recently began informal consultations with lawmakers about prospective sales of armed drones and weapons systems to NATO members Italy and Turkey, while several US allies in the Persian Gulf have been pressing Washington to authorise drone sales, officials were quoted as saying by Fox News.
The Pentagon`s proposed sales have set off a behind-the-scenes debate between the administration and some members of Congress over whether the US should speed the spread of a technology that will allow other countries to carry out military strikes by remote control, it said.
So far, the US has sold unarmed drones to several countries, including Italy, but has only allowed sales of armed drones to Britain, citing its relationship with the US and large troop presence in Afghanistan.
The administration is required by law to notify key congressional committees about prospective arms sales. The Congress generally signs off quickly when deals involve NATO allies, but officials said the proposed transfer of armed drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), faces added scrutiny.