Droni USA all'Italia, si può fare

Droni USA all'Italia, si può fare

La vendita dei droni all'Italia potrebbe ottenere il via libera del Congresso 
già in settimana. L'ultimo vertice Nato a Chicago, nel delineare il nuovo 
sistema di difesa Ags (Alliance Ground Survelliance), ha previsto l'acquisto di 
droni e tecnologie collegate per un miliardo di euro da parte degli alleati

U.S. Plans to Arm Italy's Drones

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration plans to arm Italy's fleet of Reaper drone 
aircraft, a move that could open the door for sales of advanced hunter-killer 
drone technology to other allies, according to lawmakers and others familiar 
with the matter.

The sale would make Italy the first foreign country besides Britain to fly U.
S. drones armed with missiles and laser-guided bombs. U.S. officials said Italy 
intends initially to deploy the armed drones in Afghanistan.

Lawmakers who question the planned deal say the decision to "weaponize" 
Italy's unarmed surveillance drones could make it harder for the U.S. to deny 
similar capabilities to other North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, and 
set back efforts to urge sales limitations on other nations that make 
sophisticated drones such as Israel.

Advocates say such sales would enable trusted allies to conduct military 
missions on their own as well as help open markets for U.S. drone 

The administration sent a confidential "pre-notification" to congressional 
panels in April detailing its plan to sell kits to Italy to arm up to six 
Reaper drones, which are larger, more-powerful versions of Predators.

The administration gave Congress a longer-than-usual 40 days to review the 
proposed sale. The period ended May 27 without a move to block the sale, 
according to congressional officials, clearing the way for the deal to move 
forward and for a formal notification of Congress as soon as this week.

Congress still could block the sale if it passes a joint resolution of 
disapproval in both the House and the Senate within 15 calendar days, though 
several members of Congress from both parties say such a move is unlikely.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the U.S. won't comment on proposed foreign 
military sales until Congress is formally notified of them. "Italy is a strong 
partner and NATO ally that significantly contributes to U.S. and NATO-led 
coalition operations," said the spokeswoman, Commander Wendy Snyder.

She added: "The transfer of U.S. defense articles and services to Italy, among 
other allies, enables Italy to burden-share and contribute capabilities to 
operations that protect not only Italian troops but also those of the United 
States and other coalition partners."

The White House declined to comment, as did the Italian embassy in Washington. 
Italian military officers in Afghanistan declined to comment on the use of 
Reapers there. Italy has lost about 50 troops in Afghanistan.

Critics of the proposed sale include the head of the Senate Intelligence 
Committee, Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. "America's cutting-edge 
high technology should not be shared. That's just my view," Mrs. Feinstein 
said. "I am concerned by the proliferation of these weapons systems and don't 
think we should be selling them."

A chief concern of critics is that the administration has yet to spell out 
what strings, if any, would be attached to a sales of this type to Italy and 
other future buyers.

Though Italy would initially use armed drones to protect its nearly 4,000 
troops in Afghanistan, U.S. officials indicated they might be used elsewhere in 
the future. The administration could negotiate "end-use requirements" to limit 
how the armed Reapers can be used, but it hasn't told Congress what those might 

Advocates of the deal question why critics would oppose the sale of armed 
drones while supporting the sale of other sophisticated and deadly systems, 
such as F-35 manned stealth fighters and cruise missiles, to Italy, Turkey and 

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D., Texas), co-head of a congressional group called the 
Unmanned Systems Caucus, said the U.S. has a complex calculation to make in 
deciding whether to sell advanced drones to allies, balancing concerns about 
proliferation against the goal of promoting U.S. sales abroad.

"I would like to know the criteria, how it's going to be used, because once 
you get that equipment, it's out there," Mr. Cuellar said. "We've got to give 
it some thought, not rush into it."

The world procurement market for aerial drones, both military and civilian, is 
expected to rise to $5.8 billion in 2017 from a projected $4.3 billion next 
year, according to Teal Group, a market-analysis firm.

The figures include Reapers and Predators but not a new generation of drones 
specifically designed as combat vehicles.

Despite the administration's support for armed-drone sales to close allies, 
top officials say they are increasingly concerned about the spread of the 
technology. John Brennan, President Barack Obama's chief counterterrorism 
adviser, said in a speech last month that the president and his national-
security team are "very mindful that, as our nation uses this technology, we 
are establishing precedents that other nations may follow, and not all of those 
nations…share our interests or the premium we put on protecting human life, 
including innocent civilians."

Mr. Brennan didn't single out any country. Officials privately voice concern 
that Russia and China could soon field their own armed drones, potentially 
against separatist movements, in ways the U.S. might find objectionable. 
Administration officials want standards to govern the use of drones in warfare, 
but it is unclear how those standards could be set and how the U.S. would get 
other countries to sign on to them.

Britain, the first foreign country to get armed Reapers, is considered a 
"special case" because of its historically close military ties to the U.S.

It deployed its first unarmed Reaper surveillance drone in Afghanistan in 
October 2007. Surveillance drones gather intelligence and alert ground forces 
and manned aircraft, which can then fire on the target. Britain soon asked the 
U.S. to arm its Reapers, which the U.S. did in 2008.

Italy is following a similar path, said Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution 
senior fellow and author of "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and 
Conflict in the 21st Century."

NATO member Turkey also wants to buy armed Reapers—for use against Kurdish 
separatist fighters—and the Obama administration supports Turkey's request. 
Lawmakers have objected, citing tensions between Ankara and Israel, so far 
preventing the administration from sending such a proposal to Congress for 

Some current and former U.S. officials question the standards used by Turkey 
in selecting targets for strikes, pointing to a strike by Turkish warplanes in 
December that killed 34 civilians after a U.S. Predator drone provided 
surveillance footage to the Turkish military.

The administration initially approached lawmakers last year to sound them out 
about arming Italy's Reapers. That request—unlike the one in April—was pulled 
after some lawmakers privately raised questions.

Officials said it would take at least a year to complete the upgrade of 
Italy's Reapers and train Italian pilots to use the sophisticated weapons and 
targeting systems. That has prompted some officials in Congress to question 
whether the armed Reapers would be of much use in Afghanistan, since NATO plans 
call for withdrawing combat forces by the end of 2014.

The kits would allow the Reapers to carry and fire Hellfire missiles, laser-
guided bombs and larger munitions used to take out more deeply buried targets, 
according to officials briefed on the package.